KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Derrick Gregory, a 39-year-old British painter caught seven years ago with heroin in his boots and underwear, was hanged before dawn Friday with his last plea for help to Queen Elizabeth unanswered.
Gregory, from Surrey in southern England, walked out of his grim cell at Kajang Prison for the gallows at 6 a.m. local time, leaving behind his one picture, a photograph of his 7-year-old daughter in England.
'The sentence was carried out,' a prison official said curtly afterward.
Attorney Rasiah Rajasingham, who had represented Gregory through his legal proceedings, told reporters, 'He was a very compassionate person. A British court would never have convicted him.'
Gregory had sent a message to Queen Elizabeth in Great Britain asking her to request clemency after two appeals to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher failed to alter the death sentence, but a spokesman at Buckingham Palace said the queen would not comply.
Gregory also had appealed to King Azlan Shah to spare his life although Malaysia's monarch had no constitutional powers to do so.
Following the hanging, Gregory's body was taken from the prison to a nearby hospital and the British High Commission completed arrangements for it to be flown back to England accompanied by Gregory's brother Paul.
Gregory's mother, Mary, father, Kenneth, and brother were granted a three-hour final visit with him Thursday. They left quickly without any comment to reporters. Gregory's wife, Carole, divorced him after he was sentenced to die, and he never saw his child, Tara, again.
Guards said it was Tara's photo he wanted with him until the end, however.
Gregory was arrested at Penang International Airport in 1982 when a policeman noticed he was walking strangely. Seven packets of heroin were found in each of his boots and another four packets were discovered in his underwear.
He was sentenced to die for trafficking in 20 ounces of heroin by the Penang High Court in March 1987. Malaysia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal in April 1988, and the Penang Pardons Board turned down his clemency request last week.
Gregory's case had been particularly controversial because the courts had the option of a death sentence or life in prison because the offense was committed before April 1983, when Malaysia imposed a mandatory death penalty for anyone convicted of trafficking in more than half an ounce of heroin or morphine.
During Gregory's trial, Rajasingham claimed his client under 'considerable duress' had agreed to carry the heroin because a drug syndicate threatened to kill him and his wife and baby if he refused. A British psychiatrist testified Gregory's mental health was unsound as a result of a childhood illness.
But Judge Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah dismissed the arguments, contending Gregory suffered 'from a personality disorder characterized by immaturity and anti-social behavior.'
More than 70 drug offenders, including two Australians, have been hanged under the country's stringent statute. Currently sentenced to die is Lorraine Phyllis Cohen, 46, a New Zealand resident arrested at the Penang Airport in 1985 in possession of heroin. She is appealing the sentence next month.