Smuggler: I wanted to be executed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sandra Gregory, the convicted heroin smuggler released from prison, said yesterday she would have preferred the death penalty instead of a long prison sentence.

Sandra Gregory, the convicted heroin smuggler released from prison, said yesterday she would have preferred the death penalty instead of a long prison sentence.

Now pardoned by the King of Thailand, Gregory, 35, was given a 25-year sentence after she was caught with heroin hidden inside her body at Bangkok airport in 1993.

She spent four-and-a-half years at the notorious Lar Yao women's prison - dubbed the Bangkok Hilton - before she was repatriated in 1997 to serve the remainder of her sentence in Britain.

Her early release from Cookham Wood prison in Rochester, Kent, has already provoked criticism after it was revealed that Baroness Scotland of Asthal, a Foreign Office minister, had sent her a "good luck" message. John Greenway, the Tory Home Affairs spokesman, said yesterday it was "extraordinary" for a government minister to openly congratulate a convicted drugs smuggler.

"The fact that Sandra Gregory has always admitted that she did this, the fact that tens of thousands of young people in this country go to the Far East backpacking, on holiday, surely this sends the wrong message," he said.

However in an interview with the BBC, Gregory defended Baroness Scotland for sending her the message.

"Baroness Scotland knows about the case, she has been receiving hundreds of letters over the past few years, and I think for her to have said 'good luck' at the end of it is quite a nice gesture, really. I appreciated it," she told the Radio 4 Today programme.

She appealed to others to learn from her experience and have nothing to do with drugs. "Just leave the drugs alone. I have seen so much over the past seven-and-a-half years. And it destroys the soul of a person." She stressed she herself was not using drugs. "No I don't. I'm just so ashamed of what I did seven-and-a-half years ago."

At her parents home in Aberdeen, Gregory said that she felt very bitter that her co-accused had walked free. "If I had been offered the death penalty instead of a long sentence in the beginning I would probably have taken it," she said on her first full day of freedom.

Gregory also said that she had spent her first night of liberty sitting up awake because she was too scared to go to sleep. "I was scared to sleep in case I woke up in a prison cell again," she said. "I haven't eaten or slept. Life is just too great at the moment to waste time on those things.

"When I heard I was to be set free, I thought I just didn't deserve it. I know how incredibly lucky I have been because I got myself into this situation and there is no one else to blame. I never expected a full pardon. What I was hoping for was a reduction in sentence. To be honest, when mum and dad started their campaign to free me, I thought it wouldn't do any good at all."

Comments