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Behind bars in Bali

Julian Ponder arrives at court in Bali. Photo: RTV

Julian Ponder, a 43-year old-British man, has been sentenced to six years in jail by a judge in Bali, charged with possession of cocaine.

The former antiques dealer was living in a luxurious villa north of the capital on the tropical Indonesian island when his house was raided by police in May last year.

A few days before, 56-year-old British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford had been caught carrying almost five kilos of cocaine in her suitcase when she arrived at the holiday island's airport.

She co-operated, under pressure she claims, and led the authorities to three other British suspects.

Lindsay Sandiford is escorted by custom officers Credit: REUTERS/Stringer Indonesia

One of those was Julian Ponder, whose lawyer told me last year that he thought the package Lindsay Sandiford tried to deliver to him during the 'sting' operation was a birthday present for his daughter, Kitty.

Both have spent eight months, mostly in police cells, before appearing in court for sentencing this month.

The two other suspects had already been convicted: Rachel Dougall, Julian Ponder's partner and mother of their daughter, got one year for possession of drugs.

Rachel Dougall with her translator in a Bali court in December Credit: Reuters

Paul Beales, who told me he was just meant to pick up Lindsay Sandiford and drive her to a hotel, got four years, also for possession of drugs.

Paul Beales escorted by a policeman as he arrived for a court appearance Credit: Reuters

The head of customs told me shortly after her arrest that the judge should take into account Lindsay Sandiford's co-operation when it came to sentencing.

That's why, when that day in court came last week, many people were shocked when Lindsay Sandiford got the death penalty.

The next day the judge told me the death penalty was needed to "cut off the drugs problem at the roots".

Judge Amser Simanjuntak defended imposing the death penalty in Lindsay Sandiford's case Credit: ITV News

He also explained to me why he had given Lindsay Sandiford the maximum punishment when the prosecution had only been demanding 15 years in jail.

Judge Amser Simanjuntak said:

In this case, this sentence, firstly there was nothing to reduce her sentence, there are five reasons why Lindsay got the death penalty.

Firstly she broke Indonesian anti drugs laws, secondly, Lindsay denied the drugs were hers, thirdly, she was untruthful during the trial, fourth, Lindsay never showed regret, and finally Lindsay didn't care about the negative impact of drugs; if the cocaine had spread in Bali it would have created many victims.

The judge says he didn't consider that she had helped the police and customs with their 'sting' operation.

He also discounted what she had told investigators from Reprieve; that she'd received "threats against the lives of her children via mobile phone from March 2012 until May 2012 from a criminal gang with connection in the UK, Thailand and Indonesia".

She claimed that she'd been warned that unless she carried the drugs into Bali then her two sons would be hurt.

Lindsay Sandiford is seen at a news conference at the Customs Office at Ngurah Rai International Airport Credit: Stringer Indonesia / Reuters

According to court documents Lindsay Sandiford has "physical and mental health problems".

Investigators from Reprieve say she is surviving on thirty pounds a month from a prisoner welfare charity, that's not much inside Bali's overcrowded Kerobokan jail, where most inmates rely on friends or family to bring them food and water.

Bali's Kerobokan Prison has problems with overcrowding Credit: ITV News

Yet she is faced with a long and expensive appeal process which could last up to eight years, or more.

One Jakarta based lawyer told me today that the appeal against sentence in the district court involves filling in a long and complicated form, in Indonesian.

Ultimately she could appeal for presidential clemency - that again, could take years.

Sandiford weeps as she is told she will face the death sentence Credit: Reuters

Reprieve, along with solicitors Leigh Day & Co, has now filed a judicial review on Ms Sandiford’s behalf against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which argues that:

In failing to make arrangements for an adequate lawyer to represent the Claimant's interests the Defendant is acting unlawfully, in breach of its obligations as a matter of EU law, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that she (a) does not face the death penalty, (b) is not subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, (c) is not tortured and (d) receives a fair trial.

Lindsay Sandiford, has until February the 12th to lodge the initial appeal.

She needs a lawyer and around three thousand pounds to get that done. At this stage she has neither.

From messages and tweets sent to me I get the sense that there is limited public sympathy for Lindsay Sandiford, she is a convicted drug smuggler in a country which clearly states on every airport arrival card that there is the death penalty for drug trafficking in Indonesia.

However, there is a debate about whether drug smugglers deserve to die.

That debate now centres around a vulnerable woman who desperately needs capital to avoid the punishment.