The now-43-year-old was required to spend a further three years in Indonesia before she returned to Australia in 2017.
During Schapelle’s sentence, her sister Mercedes lived in Bali for over a decade to be closer to her. While there, Mercedes lived with her now ex-husband Wayan Widyartha and their three kids, Wayan, Nyeleigh and Nyoman.
And, one thing was for certain, Mercedes wasn’t returning home until her sister was OK on her own.
“I didn’t initially have the option of coming home, because I was fighting to clear our family’s name and look after Schapelle,” Mercedes told Woman’s Day in 2016.
Mercedes eventually secretly moved back to Australia to help prepare to welcome her sister back into the country in 2015. But, a year later, things took a turn for the worst.
In 2016, Mercedes and former professional surfer Trudy Todd teamed up to open a Gold Coast bar called Laneway Bar and Dining. However the project didn’t go as planned and the venue closed in January 2017 as Mercedes told the Gold Coast Bulletin, “I’m going to be in debt for a long time”.
Not long after, in May that year, things started to look up for Mercedes as Schapelle finally returned home to Australia… sending the media into a frenzy. And so Merecedes’ mission to protect her sister continued.
Speaking to the media camped outside the family home waiting for Schapelle, Mercedes told them to “go home”.
“Schapelle isn’t going to be there. It’s annoying our children. Just google her if you want a photo… she’s not going to talk to you,” she urged the media via the Kyle & Jackie O show.
During her initial years back in the country, Schapelle spent a lot of time with her family. Fifteen years after her conviction, the former SAS Australia star revealed that, even after being home for so long, she continues to lean on her family for support.
During the COVID-19-induced isolation period, Schapelle told 7news, “I’m with my Mum, I’m with my family. I’ve updated, revised my book My Story, I’m in Queensland moving forward in life and I’m happy.”
Mercedes herself vocalised her support for Schapelle on her own Instagram back in 2019, sharing a picture of herself and her sister alongside radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O while Schapelle was promoting her book My Story.
“So proud of you Pelle for facing your fears.” Mercedes penned.
Today, the sisters continue to feature on each other’s social medias and appear closer than ever. We’re sure Mercedes will be Schapelle’s number one supporter when she hits our screens on Dancing With The Stars.