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British Bali suspect: 'I was just there to pick up the lady'

"I was just there to pick up the lady".That's what Paul Beales told me today through the bars of the hot, cramped and crowded holding cell where he could end up being held for months.

He's one of four British suspects held on suspicion of being part of an international drugs gang.

He denies claims that Lindsay Sandiford, the woman he says he was supposed to pick up, was forced to smuggle almost 5 kilos of cocaine into Bali because her children were being threatened. "She's going for sympathy" he said.

Lindsay Sandiford is escorted by custom officers Credit: Reuters

It's increasingly clear that whatever relationship there was between three British Bali residents and the 55 year old from Redcar, it's now broken under the pressure of the possibility of the death penalty.

Julian Ponder's defence, according to his lawyer, is that he was told Lindsay Sandiford was delivering a present for his six year old daughter's birthday. When he met her to receive the 'gift' police officers who'd been watching her, arrested him.

Paul Beales

After she'd been caught with the drugs at the airport, Lindsay Sandiford had offered to co-operate and, according to the police, led the authorities to the other suspects.

The sting operation lasted 6 days, a team of 20 police and customs officers put Lindsay Sandiford under surveillance as she was allowed to go ahead with pre-arranged meetings at hotels and villas across Bali. She delivered the drugs/present to Julian Ponder. His lawyer said he didn't touch or accept the package.

At police HQ today there was a meeting to compare evidence gathered during the surveillance operation.The police have 60 days before they have to hand over their files to prosecutors. Although they can ask for more time. While the authorities build the case, the suspects will stay in the crowded communal cells.

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