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Bali drug arrest a set-up: Briton

A British man arrested over a £1.6 million cocaine haul in Indonesia has insisted he was set up as he went to pick up a birthday present for his daughter.

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.


From Belfast Telegraph