Former North-East woman sentenced to death over Bali cocaine smuggling (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Former Redcar woman sentenced to death over Bali drug smuggling
A former North-East woman has this morning been sentenced to death after she was caught smuggling £1.6m worth of cocaine onto the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.
Lindsay Sandiford, 56, who is originally from Redcar, east Cleveland, was found with 4.8kg of the drug in the lining of her suitcase by police in May during a routine customs check.
Prosecutors had recommended that she be jailed instead after Sandiford, from Gloucestershire, agreed to take part in a 'sting' operation which led to the arrests of another British woman, two British men and an Indian.
The housewife also claimed that she only agreed to traffick the drug because the lives of her sons in England were being threatened.
Her defence lawyers said that Sandiford had a history of mental health problems which made her a vulnerable target for criminal gangs.
Indonesian police said that those arrested were part of a major international drugs network.
She was caught after arriving on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand.
Despite the sentencing recommendation, judges found that Sandiford had damaged Bali's image as a tourist destination and had weakened the Indonesian's strict anti-drugs programme.
They added that there were no mitigating circumstances which would persuade them to reduce their sentence.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said; "We can confirm that a British national is facing the death penalty in Indonesia.
"We remain in close contact with that national and continue to provide consular assistance."
Sandiford's lawyers said that they will appeal - arguing that it was most unusual that the judges would over rule the prosecutor's recommended sentence of 15 years in jail.
Last year, Paul Beales was jailed for four years for possession of drugs and Rachel Dougall was jailed for one year for failing to report a crime.
The trial of Brighton man Julian Ponder - believed to be Dougall's partner - for drugs possession is ongoing. Prosecutors allege that he collected cocaine from Sandiford.
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