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'Drug traffickers threatened my children' - Cheltenham woman tells court

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 08, 2013

Lindsay Sandiford

FEAR for her children's lives lead a former Cheltenham woman to attempt to traffic drugs, a court in Indonesia has heard.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, who once lived in Hester's Way and Warden Hill, has said she was sorry for trying to bring the drugs into Bali.

She was arrested in May after police said they found 10.6lb of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase.

In her witness statement, Mrs Sandiford said: "I would like to begin by apologising to the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian people for my involvement.

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"I would never have become involved in something like this but the lives of my children were in danger and I felt I had to protect them."

Prosecutors in the Bali court have already said they are seeking a 15-year prison term, a lesser sentence than the maximum penalty for drug trafficking which is death.

During the hearing yesterday, Mrs Sandiford's lawyer also read out a statement from her son which said: "I love my mother very much and have a very close relationship with her.

"I know that she would do anything to protect me. I cannot imagine what I would do if she was sentenced to death in relation to these charges."

The hearing was postponed from last week because an interpreter was not available.

A statement by Jennifer Fleetwood, an expert on the coercion of women in the international drug trade, was also read out.

It said that, in Dr Fleetwood's opinion, Mrs Sandiford was threatened and coerced into acting as a drugs courier.

Reprieve, a charity which seeks to enforce human rights for prisoners, said Mrs Sandiford was targeted by drug traffickers.

Spokeswoman Harriet McCulloch claimed that she hoped the Indonesian court would make allowances for the way Mrs Sandiford had been treated by the authorities.

She added: "Lindsay was targeted by drug traffickers who exploited her vulnerability and made threats against her children.

"Following her arrest, she was interrogated by the Indonesian police without a translator, legal representation or the assistance of the British Embassy for 10 days.

"We hope that the judges take all of this into consideration when handing down their verdict."

The next hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow.

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