Great convict of drug trafficking on death row waiting for execution inside brutal Bali prison


A British gran on death row is awaiting execution in a Bali prison after being convicted of drug smuggling.

Lindsay Sandiford can do nothing but knit and wait to die while she remains locked up in jail on the paradise island.

The 65-year-old was found with £1.6million of cocaine in her suitcase, which she was trying to smuggle into Indonesia, back in 2013, according to the Mirror.

Since then, she has anticipated the cruel punishment in Indonesia for drug smugglers and dealers as most of them are sentenced to death – with the terrifying execution method being by firing squad.

The woman can only knit and wait to die
The woman can only knit and wait to die

Prisoners at Kerobokan prison, Bali, are led to a grassy area where they are faced with armed soldiers who can take their shots, aiming for the heart of prisoners who can choose whether to sit or stand.

But if a prisoner survives the firing squad, the commander must then shoot them in the head. Indonesia carries out executions infrequently with most prisoners waiting on death row for more than 10 years.

Riots and violence from guards are a regular occurrence at the Bali prison which houses 1100 people more than it was built for.

The prison opened in 1979 and was built to hold 300 inmates as of 2017, the Kerobokan Prison contains over 1,400 male and female prisoners of various nationalities.

Indonesian soldiers stand guard under guard tower outside the Kerobokan prison
Indonesian soldiers stand guard under guard tower outside the Kerobokan prison

Sandiford, a former legal secretary from Redcar in the North East, had worked in management for many years at a law firm in Cheltenham.

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When she arrived in Bali from Bangkok in Thailand on May 19, 2012, she was arrested after a huge haul of cocaine was found in her luggage.

In December 2015, two inmates were killed because of a riot between rival gangs. As a result of this, police transferred more than one hundred inmates to other local prisons.

The last death penalties carried out in Indonesia took place in 2015 and 130 people, including Sandiford, are waiting to be executed.

The grandmother sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking
The grandmother sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking

After her arrest, Sandiford insisted she had been forced to carry the Class A drugs by a criminal gang, who had threatened to hurt her family if she refused.

However, the great dramatically changed her story when she was told she would receive the death penalty if she was convicted of drug trafficking.

She broke down and told officers that she had been asked to carry the drugs by an antiques dealer, Julian Ponder, who was British and living in Bali, and his partner Rachel Dougall.

Sandiford even agreed to take part in a police sting to catch the pair, along with a third person, Paul Beales.

Lindsay Sandiford will face an Indonesian firing squad
Lindsay Sandiford will face an Indonesian firing squad

Ponder’s home was searched and both he and Sandiford were charged with drug trafficking. There was no evidence linking Dougall and Beales to the same crime and they were charged with lesser offenses.

Sandiford’s legal team argued that she had been pressured into carrying the drugs and had suffered from mental health problems.

Their pleas fell on deaf ears and she was convicted – although even the prosecution pleaded for her to be jailed for 15 years rather than sentenced to death.

Dougall was found guilty of failing to report a crime and jailed for a year, while Beales was convicted of possessing hashish and locked up for four years.

Ponder was cleared of drug smuggling but convicted of the possession of narcotics and sentenced to six years behind bars.

Despite the prosecution’s pleas, on January 22, 2013, judges sentenced Sandiford to death.

She appealed against the decision but she had no money left to pay for a legal team. A fundraising campaign managed to raise enough to fly an Indonesian solicitor to Bali but her appeal was dismissed.

Sandiford then appealed to the Indonesian Supreme Court, which was also rejected. Ever since the great has been held in Kerobokan Prison, in Bali.

She now spends her time behind bars knitting items, which she then sells to raise funds to pay for her legal appeals. She has even been teaching other prisoners how to knit.

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However, spending so long on death row is taking its toll on Sandiford, who befriended suitcase killer Heather Mack during her time in prison.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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