Event: Execution of Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers (1983 - 1986)

9 November 1983
7 July 1986
Capital punishment, Drugs and Heroin


Australian citizens Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were the first Westerners to be convicted and executed under drug laws introduced in Malaysia in 1983 that prescribed the death penalty for carrying amounts of heroin over 15 grams, a cut-off point used to distinguish possession from trafficking.

The case was highly publicised in Australia and the United Kingdom (Barlow held dual British and Australian citizenship), but all legal appeals and and political requests for clemency were unsuccessful. Barlow and Chambers were hanged in Pudu Prison on 7 July 1986.


Barlow and Chambers were detained at Bayan Lepas International Airport on 9 November 1983, where heroin was found in their luggage. They were imprisoned in Penang Prison for all of 1984 and most of 1985.

Their trial commenced 17 July 1985 at the High Court of Penang and concluded on 24 July, with both men found guilty of trafficking drugs. Sentencing was deferred for a week to enable lawyers to prepare submissions which might be used in an appeal to the supreme Court of Malaysia. On 1 August 1985 Barlow and Chambers were formally sentenced with the death penalty.

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