BALI – Lindsay Sandiford, 56, faces 15 years in jail after £1.6m worth of cocaine was allegedly found in her luggage. Prosecutors in Indonesia are seeking a 15-year jail sentence for a British woman who is on trial for allegedly smuggling up to £1.6m worth of cocaine into Bali.
They did not seek the death sentence for 56-year-old grandmother Lindsay Sandiford on Thursday because she was “already elderly”,local media reported. Sandiford also faces fines of 2bn rupiah (£127,000) or an additional six months in prison.
Customs officials were said to have found almost 5kg of cocaine in her luggage when she landed at the island’s Ngurah Rai airport in May. Some reports have put the amount lower, at 3.7kg.
Paul Beales, another Briton, received a four-year sentence on Wednesday for the illegal possession of 3.1g of cannabis while Rachel Dougall was sentenced to one year in prison in a separate trial on Thursday for failing to report a crime to authorities.
Her partner Julian Ponder, a former antiques restorer with whom she lives in a villa on the island, is charged with conspiring to import, smuggle and exchange drugs and being part of a drug syndicate, it has been reported.
Dougall, Ponder and Beales were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking at the end of May along with an Indian man. Dougall and Ponder, both from Brighton, West Sussex have claimed they were “set up” by Sandiford.
A verdict on Sandiford, who comes from Redcar on Teesside and also lived in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is expected to be handed down in early January.
Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws; convicted smugglers often face the death sentence, although foreigners seldom receive it.
Sandford, who has two adult sons, has become a grandmother since her arrest. Her supporters at human rights group Reprieve said she had never been in trouble with the police before but, in March 2012, she agreed to carry a suitcase from Bangkok, Thailand to Bali, because she was convinced her son would be in danger from criminal gangs if she refused. She also had mental health issues.
Dr Jennifer Fleetwood, an expert on the drugs trade, submitted written testimony to the court that, in her professional opinion, Sandiford “was subjected to coercion by one or more parties over a period of time” and that her “vulnerability will have made her an ideal target for drugs traffickers”.
Harriet McCulloch, an investigator at Reprieve, said: “Lindsay has been through a terrible experience – she was exploited by drug traffickers, who targeted her because of her vulnerability and her fear for the safety of her children. She was interrogated by the Indonesian police without a translator, legal representation or the assistance of the British embassy for 10 days. It would have been unthinkable for the prosecution to demand her execution. We hope that the judges take all of this into consideration when handing down their verdict.”
Sentencing Dougall, judges said they had taken into consideration the fact that she was a mother and had co-operated with investigations. Dougall, 38, told the BBC she would return to the UK after serving her sentence.