The 'suburban smuggler' facing death penalty in Indonesia

Cheltenham housewife arrested in Bali with nearly 5kg of cocaine in her suitcase

A British housewife was facing possible execution yesterday after being arrested on suspicion of smuggling £1.6 million worth of cocaine into Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford, 55, fought to hide her face as she was paraded in front of the press, flanked by Indonesian police officers, with almost 4.8kg of drugs they said were found sewn into the lining of her suitcase.

Another British woman and two men as well as an Indian man – said to be the intended recipients – were also put on public display, wearing orange prison uniforms and balaclavas.

Yesterday residents of the street in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where Mrs Sandiford used to live with her two sons described them as a "neighbours from hell," though a former friend insisted she was a "lovely, bubbly" woman.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws, and Mrs Sandiford could face the death penalty if convicted. Initial reports said that she had told police that she had only agreed to carry the drugs after her children were threatened.

The mother-of-two, believed to be from Redcar, Teesside, was stopped as she arrived at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok on 19 May, customs official Made Wijaya told the press conference in Kuta. "After weighing, the total cocaine is 4.791kg," he said, estimating the street value at 23.9 billion Indonesian rupiah (£1.6m).

He continued: "This is a big international network. The charge against them would carry the death penalty."

Two days after her arrest, Mrs Sandiford agreed to be used in a sting operation carried out by Indonesian authorities. When a British woman, identified only as RLD, contacted her two days later a meeting was arranged.

The head of Bali's drugs squad said that the woman and two British men, identified by the initials BP and JAP, were subsequently arrested on suspicion of being senior figures in a major drug-smuggling syndicate, controlled from abroad.

Another 68g of cocaine, 280g of powdered ecstasy and a small amount of hashish were also seized following the arrest of the other gang members at separate locations in Bali, officials said.

Yesterday, neighbours of Mrs Sandiford in Cheltenham said many "strange" visitors would turn up at the house at all hours of the day and night.

One man who lives nearby, Colin Richardson, said: "I was glad to see the back of her. She was totally the wrong sort of person in this sort of neighbourhood."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "When the house was repossessed they had to completely redo it.

"She gave the impression of being quite well off and everything, but she was just putting on a facade."

Reports in the local newspaper, the Gloucestershire Echo, revealed that she had clashed with the local education authority over schooling for her son Eliot – who she said had behavioural problems – when he was a teenager.

Neighbours said that in addition to Eliot, who is now believed to be 22, Mrs Sandiford had another son Lewis who was two years older.

But Maria Swift, 47, who worked part time for Mrs Sandiford, painted a different image, insisting: "She was friendly, bubbly, she was helpful, she helped me. I did a bit of cleaning for her, it was just to help her out in general. Her boys were a bit messy – which boys can be."

At the time she knew Mrs Sandiford, she had been working for a firm of solicitors doing administrative work, Ms Swift added. "I'm just gobsmacked because I didn't see that side of her and it's hard to believe that she could work for a legal firm and go from one extreme to another."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the arrest in Bali, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world