British grandmother on death row in Bali for more than 10 years for drug smuggling given ‘one final hope of escape'

16 March 2024, 09:50 | Updated: 16 March 2024, 09:52

Lindsay Sandiford has been given hope of freedom after more than 10 years in an Indonesian prison.
Lindsay Sandiford has been given hope of freedom after more than 10 years in an Indonesian prison. Picture: Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

A British grandmother who has been held in Bali for more than 10 years on death row has been given a final glimmer of hope she may escape a firing squad.

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Lindsay Sandiford, 67, was imprisoned in Indonesia in 2013 for trying to smuggle £1.6 million worth of cocaine into the country in her suitcase.

Now cellmates of Ms Sandiford have revealed she has fresh hope of escaping the death sentence.

A new law being introduced in January means the grandmother’s death sentence could be converted into a life prison term due to her 10 years of good behaviour behind bars.

One inmate at Kerobokan jail in Bali, where she is being held, opened up about Ms Sandiford’s life in the Indonesian prison.

She revealed the British grandmother has been dubbed the ‘grandmother’, enjoys special privileges such as being served medium-rare steak dinners and helps inmates learn how to knit.

If her sentence is converted, it means lawyers could argue that she should be returned to the UK, in which case she is likely to be freed due to the time she has already served in Indonesia.

“There is hope that she can go home. If she can get through to 2025 then she thinks she may be able to avoid the death penalty,” an inmate told The Mirror.

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Lindsay Sandiford has been given fresh hope of freedom.
Lindsay Sandiford has been given fresh hope of freedom. Picture: Getty

It comes as human rights barrister Felicity Gerry KC, who visited the grandmother-of-two in 2015, called for the 65-year-old to be returned to the UK.

She said: “Indonesia is taking an important step in recognising the need to commute the sentences of those subject to the death penalty, especially women. Lindsay cooperated with the authorities and explained levels of coercion that should have at least mitigated her position.

“The Government should be taking active steps to ­facilitate her return to the UK, either to serve a sentence near her family or to consider her release.”

Ms Sandiford’s cellmate, who has spent two years with the gran, revealed the details of her life behind bars, saying “everyone loves her”.

She said: “She is the grandmother of the prison, the Queen.

“She is the only one who can order steak from the prison cafe. She has it medium-rare, normally once a week. Everyone loves her, she teaches people how to knit, she hosts regular classes, and shows them how to look after themselves.

“She’d be brought ­chocolate and fresh ­vegetables from supporters. I think the prison recognised that she’s not a young woman, and she came from the West.”

The grandmother has been on death row for more than 10 years.
The grandmother has been on death row for more than 10 years. Picture: Alamy

Ms Sandiford is locked up in one of Indonesia’s toughest jails, where she waits every day to be brought to Nusa Kambangan, known as Execution Island.

The prison houses 1,300 inmates and has been described as a “hellhole” by some inmates, as it reportedly experiences frequent murder, rapes and drug overdoses.

Her cellmate added: “No date has been set for the execution. She is scared of dying but she has accepted it.”

Ms Sandiford was caught flying 10.16lb of cocaine into Bali in 2012.

She initially claimed she had been forced to smuggle the class A drug into the country from Thailand by a UK-based drugs syndicate that threatened the life of one of her two sons.

But she changed her story after being told she would receive the death penalty if convicted of trafficking, The Mirror reports.

Despite cooperating in a police sting to arrest people higher up in the syndicate, she was still handed the death sentence after a court ruled she had damaged tourism and the fight against drugs.

Human rights lawyers and former UK Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said she had been treated with “quite extraordinary severity” over the sentencing.

Julian Ponder, the person claimed asked her to carry the drugs, was cleared of smuggling and convicted for possession of 23g of cocaine.

The crime carries a maximum life sentence but Ponder was jailed for six years and fined £65,000.