British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford facing death penalty “coerced” into carrying drugs, says expert

December 6, 2012

Graphic of nooses hanging in Pakistan

There is compelling evidence that a British grandmother facing the death penalty in Indonesia on drugs charges was threatened and coerced into acting as a courier, an international expert has said.

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood, who is a specialist on women’s involvement in the international drug trade, will tell a court in Bali that, in her professional opinion, “Lindsay Sandiford was subjected to coercion by one or more parties over a period of time, which led to her being stopped at Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) in Bali, on the 19th May 2012 carrying in excess of 4 kilograms of cocaine.

She adds that “Lindsay Sandiford’s clean criminal record confirms that she has never been involved in any other form of crime.”

Ms Sandiford, a 56 year old grandmother from Teeside, was arrested in May this year on drugs charges which could see her facing the death penalty.  Following months of threats made against her family, she had finally agreed to travel to Thailand where, convinced her son would be in danger from criminal gangs if she refused, she agreed to carry a suitcase to Bali, Indonesia. She was too scared to tell anyone, including her partner, what was happening to her until she was arrested on her arrival in Bali, after which she cooperated fully with the police.

In an expert report submitted to the District Court in Denpasar, Bali, Dr Fleetwood also concludes that Ms Sandiford’s vulnerability will have made her an ideal target for drugs traffickers, noting that: “There is…evidence to suggest that a trafficker would seek someone who was vulnerable. Having reviewed extracts from Lindsay’s medical records I know that Lindsay has a history of mental health issues…This may have unfortunately made her an attractive target for threats, manipulation and coercion.”

Ms Sandiford’s trial is ongoing and being conducted in weekly hearings. It is expected to last several more weeks. Lindsay’s defence team is applying for permission for Dr Fleetwood to testify via videolink.

Harriet McCulloch, Investigator at Reprieve, said: “Lindsay has always maintained that she only agreed to carry the package to Bali after receiving threats against the lives of her family. Since then she has cooperated fully with the Indonesian authorities but remains in Kerobokan prison where she continues to fear for the well-being of her family, who she was so desperately trying to protect.  This report demonstrates that Lindsay was exploited by drug barons, who preyed on her vulnerability and her fear for the safety of her children.”


Notes to editors:

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / donald.campbell [AT] or see

2. A copy of Dr Fleetwood’s expert report is available on request.