In the Media

Briton in Bali drug ring to escape death penalty

PUBLISHED September 17, 2012

Paul Beales was the first of the four accused to appear in court on Monday.

During the brief hearing, Mr Beales, a property developer from Milton Keynes and long-term Bali resident, was charged with possession of drugs less than 2.2lb (1kg) and with selling more than 5g of narcotics. Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world and selling more than 5g can result in a death sentence.

Prosecutors, though, said the 40-year-old was a secondary player in the scheme to smuggle more than 10lb of cocaine into Bali and that they would not ask for the death penalty. Instead, Mr Beales, who has maintained his innocence since he was arrested in May along with three other Britons Lindsay Sandiford, Rachel Dougall and Julian Ponder, faces up to 20 years in prison. His next court appearance was set for September 24.

While Mr Beales has escaped being executed by firing squad, the fate of his alleged co-conspirators is far less certain. Mrs Sandiford, a 55-year-old from Redcar, was arrested when the cocaine was found in the lining of her suitcase after she arrived in Bali on a flight from Thailand. Mrs Sandiford is believed to have implicated Mr Ponder and his long-term girlfriend Ms Dougall, who have a six-year-old daughter, in the smuggling operation.

When police raided their villa they found cocaine in cigarette packets. Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall say they have been framed by Mrs Sandiford as part of her attempts to avoid a death sentence. But Bali police allege the couple were part of a drugs syndicate that targeted wealthy tourists.

Mrs Sandiford, Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall are expected to go on trial in the next few weeks. Some 140 people are on death row in Indonesia, around a third of them foreigners.