British mother on drugs charge in Indonesia taken to hospital

Depressed and refusing to eat, Rachel Dougall is repeatedly calling for her six-year-old daughter suffering from severe depression

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The Independent Online

A British woman accused in Bali of being part of a drug-smuggling ring has been taken to hospital after refusing to eat, it was claimed yesterday.

Rachel Dougall, 38, has been repeatedly calling for her six-year-old daughter Kitty, unable to sleep, and in such a state of depression that she has been sedated, locals on the Indonesian island said.

Ms Dougall – along with her partner Julian Ponder, fellow Briton Paul Beales and Indian father-of-two Akkinemi Mandagopal – was arrested after the British housewife Lindsay Sandiford was caught at Ngurah Rai International Airport on 19 May allegedly trying to smuggle 4.8kg of cocaine worth £1.6m into the country in the lining of her suitcase. The 55-year-old agreed to co-operate in a sting operation to target the alleged recipients of the drugs at which point the other four were arrested. Bali police said that a further 68g of cocaine, 280g of powdered ecstasy and a small amount of hashish were also seized.

In line with Indonesia's strict narcotics laws, they could all face the firing squad if convicted of smuggling though local reports said that Mrs Sandiford may receive a lighter sentence for cooperating.

Mr Ponder, 43, and Ms Dougall both insisted that they were the victims of a "fit-up" when they were taken into custody on 25 May.

Yesterday morning Ms Dougall was transferred from Bali police prison to Bhayangkara Hospital, officers said, because she was suffering withdrawal symptoms from drugs.

But her lawyer said: "Rachel is always crying and shouting out that she misses her daughter and her mother.

"Police were forced to transfer her to the hospital because she suffering from depression," he added. "She even didn't eat anything for over five days because she doesn't want to eat any meal that is provided by a police officer."

Relatives said her mother Stella Woodley, 75, was heartbroken by the arrest. Ms Dougall's brother Asa, 51, told a local newspaper: "My mother is devastated. Rachel is innocent. We are not too well. We are not doing too good."

A hospital spokesman said Ms Dougall was under the care of a psychiatrist and had been sedated, adding: "She is currently being observed. The doctor has been to see her and we will do our best to treat her."

A Bali police spokesman confirmed that they had been unable to question Ms Dougall because of her health. "We don't interrogate sick people," he said. "It will be against their human rights. We will be waiting until she is healthy again and then we will continue the questions."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said it was aware that Ms Dougall had been admitted to hospital and was helping both the inmates as well as the couple's daughter. "Consular staff in Bali are monitoring the situation and will continue to provide consular assistance," she said.

Meanwhile the authorities said they could now continue to question Mrs Sandiford after she appointed a lawyer.