British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford weeps as she is sentenced to death by Indonesian court for drug trafficking

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, had expected jail term for cocaine offence

She pulled a floral sarong over her head to shield herself from the TV cameras, but Lindsay Sandiford’s sobs betrayed her shock and grief today as a Balinese court sentenced the Briton to death for trying to smuggle cocaine into the Indonesian resort island.

Sandiford, 56, had known her penalty would be harsh: Indonesia is notorious for its uncompromising treatment of drug offenders. But prosecutors had sought a 15-year jail term, so when the panel of judges announced she would face a firing squad, it must have come as a cruel bolt from the blue.

The former legal secretary from Redcar, Cleveland, was arrested at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport last May after customs officers found 4.8kg of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase. She was put in an orange prison uniform and paraded in front of the media, along with the haul of Class A drugs.

Police had already dangled in front of her an offer of leniency, in exchange for her helping them to net other alleged members of her smuggling ring. She accepted the offer, reportedly after considering it over a bowl of nasi goreng (fried rice with chicken and soy sauce) in a hotel room in the capital, Denpasar.

A sting operation led to the arrest of three other Britons – Rachel Dougall, 39, her partner, Julian Ponder, 43, and Paul Beales, 39 – and an Indian, Nandagopal Akkinemi.

However, a lack of evidence linking them with Sandiford led to Beales receiving a four-year sentence last month for cannabis possession and Dougall being jailed for 12 months for failing to report a crime.

A verdict is expected in Mr Ponder’s trial tomorrow. He is charged with receiving the cocaine in Bali, which – despite publicity about the draconian penalties – has a thriving drugs scene, focused on bars and nightclubs frequented by foreigners.

Face drawn, hair tied back, the bespectacled Sandiford cut a pitiful figure in Denpasar District Court, where she was accompanied by a Balinese translator and her sister, Hillary Parson.

Earlier, she had told the court that she acted as a courier only because “the lives of my children were in danger”. In interviews, she said she was forced to carry the drugs into Bali from Bangkok by a UK-based drugs gang that had threatened to kill one of her sons. The court also heard that she had mental health problems.

Jennifer Fleetwood, a University of Kent expert on the role of women in the international drug trade, testified that her vulnerability “may have unfortunately made her an attractive target for threats, manipulation and coercion”.

Despite all that, and her previously clean record and co-operation with police, the judges declared there were “no mitigating circumstances”. She had tarnished Bali’s image as a tourism destination and obstructed the government’s fight against drugs, they added. The arcane workings of Indonesian justice are often baffling to outsiders.

Sandiford’s lawyers said they would almost certainly appeal, and they may be successful – death sentences are often commuted to long prison terms and Indonesia has not executed anyone since 2008. There are at least 40 foreigners on death row, most of them convicted of drug crimes, according to a report in March last year by Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Sandiford’s sentence was condemned by Reprieve, a charity that campaigns for prisoners’ human rights, and Amnesty International, which described the use of the death penalty for a non-lethal crime as “cruel in the extreme”.

The Foreign Office said Sandiford would continue to receive consular assistance.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£60 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Youth Support Workers Glouceste...

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary Teaching Jobs Available NOW-Southport

£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London