Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall, believed to be partners, are being held in Bali alongside fellow Briton Paul Beales, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Ms Dougall could receive the death penalty for the alleged smuggling operation - leaving behind her little girl, Kitty, who is reportedly in the care of the couple's maid and gardener on the island. Ms Dougall insisted she was the victim of a "fit-up" and Mr Ponder has told ITV News he was "trapped".
The pair were arrested in a sting operation after British housewife Lindsay Sandiford, 55, was allegedly caught with 4.8kg of cocaine stuffed in the lining of a suitcase as she arrived in Bali. She agreed to take part in the sting in which police swooped on four other suspects after her arrest last week - the three other Britons and an Indian man.
Ms Dougall and Mr Ponder were filmed by ITV News as they were taken by police for questioning. Ms Dougall later shouted through the bars of her cell at Bali police headquarters: "It's a fit-up, get us a decent lawyer."
ITV News said Mr Ponder's defence, according to his lawyer, is that he was told Mrs Sandiford was delivering a present for six-year-old Kitty's birthday and when he met her to receive the "gift", police officers arrested him. His lawyer told the channel: "Julian Ponder believes, you know, 100% that he was trapped by Lindsay (Sandiford)", and said he did not touch or accept the package.
According to ITV News, police have 60 days before they have to hand over their files to prosecutors.
The Foreign Office said British officials were helping the little girl as well as the arrested Britons. A spokesman said: "We are aware of the daughter of Rachel Dougall. Consular officials from the consulate in Bali have visited the daughter and will continue to provide consular assistance."
Speaking to ITV News from his holding cell, Mr Beales said he was supposed to pick up Mrs Sandiford and said her claims she was forced to smuggle cocaine into Bali because her children were being threatened were untrue.
Customs officials previously told ITV News that Mrs Sandiford may be spared the death sentence because she helped catch three other members of the smuggling operation, who could face a firing squad. Mrs Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, is thought to have told police she only agreed to make the smuggling trip because her children in England were being threatened.
Source: The Press Association, May 31, 2012
'I'm losing my marbles'
British Bali 'drug queen' speaks from prison cell for 1st time as her gilded lifestyle is revealed and it emerges she led glitzy party life in London
The British mother being held in Indonesia on suspicion of drugs trafficking has spoken of her mental torture for the first time from behind bars.
Rachel Dougall, 38, who has spent a week in a police cell since her arrest said: 'I am hallucinating, I can't sleep, I can't eat, I am losing my marbles.'
Mrs Dougall accused Lindsay Sandiford, who was allegedly caught smuggling cocaine into Bali, of setting her up and insisted drugs found at her home 'wasn't mine', adding, 'as if I would have that in my daughter's room?'
And when asked about the death penalty she faces if found guilty, she told the Daily Telegraph: 'They are talking about things which I cannot even imagine.'
Before he moved to Bali, Julian Ponder was the director of a company that specialised in organising exclusive corporate and private parties in London.
No expense, it seems, was spared on these occasions. One such bash (for Credit Suisse) involved turning an entire floor of the bank’s headquarters in Canary Wharf blue.
At another (for Virgin), the New Orleans Mardi Gras was recreated at an old brewery in the East End. ‘You have to hit people with some magic the minute they walk in the door,’ the firm’s publicity material boasted at the time.
‘Unless you achieve that wow factor within the first few seconds, you’ve got a long evening ahead.’
Might Julian Ponder have provided something else to partygoers aside from the spectacular and decadent decorations to achieve that ‘wow factor’?
The question seems particularly pertinent in light of the revelations now unfolding in Bali where Mr Ponder, 43, and his partner Rachel Dougall, 38, have been arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.6million.
Bali police believe they were the lynchpins in a syndicate supplying the drug to rich tourists on the Indonesian island.
You don’t create such a network overnight, of course, which rather suggests that, if the allegations are true, their murky connections would have been established long before they began living permanently in Bali earlier this year. Hence the focus on their activities in London — and elsewhere — over the past decade or so.
If convicted, the couple, who have a 6-year-old daughter, Kitty, could face death by firing squad along with 2 other Britons, including a housewife from Cheltenham, who have also been implicated in the plot.
Already, the strain has taken its toll on Ms Dougall. She was rushed to hospital last night after collapsing in her police cell, claiming she hadn’t ‘slept or eaten for days,’ and is now under sedation.
It is a turn of events that has left those who know her and Ponder in Britain — or thought they knew them — stunned. They appeared utterly respectable.
Mr Ponder is from leafy Surrey, the son of journalist John Ponder, a distinguished crime correspondent on the London Evening Standard back in the 70s, who counted Jonathan Aitken, then a Conservative MP, among his friends.
Before meeting Ms Dougall, Mr Ponder lived in an apartment, now worth £600,000, in a smart Victorian mansion block in Kensington, West London.
At the time, he was running his swish party-organising and catering business. Ms Dougall is from Brighton, where her father Barry was once an antiques dealer.
She was the manager of the local French Connection shop and later she set up her own advertising company in the city.
The couple are believed to have met around six years ago. Their home was a £500,000 flat overlooking the Brighton seafront.
Yet dig a little deeper into their respective backgrounds and a less flattering picture emerges.
The upmarket party firm, for example? Well, it was wound up in 2008 with huge debts. The list of creditors on public documents filed at Companies House runs to 3 A4 pages.
Those left out of pocket included a business — hired by members of the Royal Family and Sir Elton John — that creates lavish ‘ice sculptures’ for special events. It was owed more than £3,000.
Ms Dougall’s name also appears in the archives of the local daily paper, The Argus. She was fined for fare-dodging on a train to London in 1998. Her father, it emerges, has also led a chequered life. He served 3 1/2 years for fraud when she was growing up.
But perhaps the most revealing insight into the lives of Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall can be found in Cyprus where, we have been told, they own a villa, not in tourist hotspots Larnaca or Paphos, but in Kyrenia, in the Turkish-held enclave of Northern Cyprus.
This part of Cyprus has gained a reputation — rightly or wrongly — for being a ‘gangsters’ paradise’ because, unlike the rest of Cyprus, there is no extradition treaty with countries such as Britain.
People in Kyrenia are used to doing business in cash. The couple’s 3-bedroom home, which they are believed to have acquired around 3 or 4 years ago, is worth around £120,000.
Mr Ponder, says an expat who lives in Kyrenia but who wishes to remain anonymous, was a ‘bit of a jack-the-lad’. He was ‘well-connected’ and ‘always had lots of money’.
Both he and Miss Dougall were part of a hedonistic ‘party scene and rich crowd’.
So how did Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall afford two holiday homes, one in Cyprus, the other, complete with swimming pool and marble floors, in Bali?
Many locals were asking as much even before the duo came to the world’s attention by being paraded on Indonesian TV this week in orange prison jumpsuits following the drugs bust.
Their Bali villa was built on 17,222sq ft of land bought in 2009 — the year after Mr Ponder’s party-organising business was liquidated with huge debts. Note, also, Ms Dougall’s advertising company in Brighton was dissolved in 2006. (Of course, it cannot be ruled out that they had another legitimate means of income.)
|Typical cell at "Hotel K"|
The luxurious property is worth at least $300,000 (£195,000) on the local market — a small fortune in Indonesia, where the minimum wage is about £100 a month. It is located in the village of Desa Belalang in Tabanan, about an hour’s drive from Bali’s main tourist areas. The couple began living here with their daughter a few months ago.
Bali derives 80 % of its income from tourism and has become a target for international drug rings eager to prey on the millions who visit the island each year. Under Indonesian law, the minimum sentence for anyone caught producing, importing or exporting more than one kilogram of any drug is 5 years in jail.
The maximum sentence is the death penalty. This is spelled out in red capital letters on immigration landing cards. It reads: ‘Death penalty for drug traffickers under Indonesian law.’
It is a risk, it seems, many criminals are prepared to take, for they know that many of the screening facilities at ports and airports in Indonesia are outdated.
More investment in scanners and other modern facilities is desperately needed. In the meantime, there are huge profits to made.
Much of the drugs market in Bali is centred in upmarket Seminyak with its fashionable restaurants, clubs and bars and white sandy beaches. Tourism websites now carry warnings to be ‘extra careful’ not to accept offers of drugs under any circumstances when visiting the town.
Police suggest that the source at least of the cocaine in Seminyak was the ‘syndicate’ which allegedly included Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall.
‘We believe that this syndicate is the source for cocaine which has been flooding places where rich people congregate in Bali,’ said a police spokesman.
The couple vehemently protest their innocence. Their idyllic life in Bali, complete with nanny and servants, began to unravel on May 19 when British housewife Lindsay Sandiford was arrested at Denpasar airport in Bali on a flight from Bangkok. In the lining of her suitcase was 4.8kg of cocaine — and customs officials said the operation had potentially ‘saved’ up to 14,000 people from the drug.
On the face of it, bespectacled Mrs Sandiford, a mother of two who once worked as legal secretary, could not have been a more unlikely drugs courier.
After growing up in Cleveland, she moved to London where she married. She is now separated but has 2 sons, Lewis, 23, and Eliot, 21.
For some years Mrs Sandiford rented a £275,000 detached property in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where neighbours have less than fond memories of her.
Some have described her as a ‘neighbour from hell’. A man of 63 who lived next door said she was evicted around five years ago for failing to pay rent.
Even Mrs Sandiford’s mother, Audrey, refuses to have anything to do with her. She has lived abroad for many years and has remarried. She asked us not to reveal the place where she now resides.
‘I don’t go to England or have anything to do with Lindsay. I got tired of being a piggy bank and realised I was better off away from them,’ said the 86-year-old. She says she did not know Lindsay had been arrested and was ‘absolutely horrified. It’s a complete shock’.
Customs officers believe Lindsay Sandiford and Rachel Dougall were long-time friends. Mrs Sandiford allegedly implicated her — and the other suspects — following days of interrogation and agreed to take part in a ‘sting’ operation in an attempt to reduce any future sentence she might receive.
What followed next could have come straight from a film plot.
A team of 20 police and customs men put Mrs Sandiford under surveillance as she was allowed to attend meetings at hotels and villas across Bali with the alleged buyers for the drug shipment. One of those alleged buyers was Mr Ponder. He was seized at an undisclosed address after being given a box containing the cocaine by Mrs Sandiford.
Mr Ponder claims he thought Mrs Sandiford was bringing a present for his daughter’s 6th birthday. Ms Dougall was arrested shortly afterwards at their villa, where police say they found drugs hidden in packets of cigarettes.
Information from Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall culminated in the arrest of a 4th Briton, Paul Beales. Mr Beales, who has lived in Bali for the past 15 years, also insists he is innocent.
Why, though, would Lindsay Sandiford hide £1.6million worth of cocaine in her suitcase in the first place?
She is reported to have told police that her two sons back in London would have come to harm if she hadn’t. All 4 Britons implicated in the plot, then, claim they are victims, in one way or another.
Ms Dougall has now been moved to a guarded room at Trijata Hospital, 450metres from the police headquarters where she was being held with her fellow suspects.
Before she was ordered away from a telephone at the hospital, she was able to speak to a local correspondent for the BBC. ‘I’m not guilty of anything to do with drugs and I just wanted to be allowed to go home and be with my daughter,’ she said. ‘I haven’t slept or eaten for days.’
When Ms Dougall is well enough, she will be returned to the police station where her interrogation will continue. ‘We need many questions answered,’ said one drug squad detective. Police have 60 days to hand over their files to prosecutors.
But any hopes the Britons might have of winning presidential clemency from mandatory execution if they are convicted appeared to be in jeopardy last night as a powerful anti-narcotic group tried to squash future acts of mercy.
The National Anti-Narcotics Movement and the People’s Conscience Party said they planned to take political and legal action to prevent future presidents giving clemency to prisoners on death row. If Julian Ponder, Rachel Dougall, Lindsay Sandiford and Paul Beales are found guilty, they will be transferred to the notorious Kerobokan jail, or Hotel K as it is chillingly known, where up to 11 prisoners at a time are forced to share single cells. There are currently 90 inmates awaiting execution at ‘Hotel K.’
Is that figure about to rise to 94?
Source: Daily Mail, June 1, 2012