The ArgusDrug charge father escapes death penalty (From The Argus)

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Brighton man Julian Ponder escapes death penalty for drug charge

The Argus: Julian Ponder with his partner Rachel Dougall – Picture by Barcroft Media Julian Ponder with his partner Rachel Dougall – Picture by Barcroft Media

A father is no longer facing the firing squad after a charge of selling drugs against him was dropped.

Brighton father Julian Ponder had been accused in Indonesia of possessing drugs and selling drugs – an offence punishable by the death penalty in the country.

But yesterday (January 8) prosecutors in Bali dropped the more serious charge.

Prosecutors asked for him to instead be sentenced to seven years in prison for possession of drugs and for him to be fined $100,000 (£62,000).

Ponder and his partner Rachel Dougall – who have a six-year-old daughter together and a flat in Eastern Terrace, Kemp Town, Brighton – were accused of being part of “the British gang of four” accused of trying to smuggle £1.6million of cocaine into the country from Thailand last May.

Dougall, 39, was jailed for a year last month after being convicted of failing to report the bringing of drugs into Indonesia.

She was told by Denpasar District Court that she could be on her way back to the UK by April, to be reunited with her daughter, because she has already been in jail for eight months awaiting trial.

Cocaine

Relieved Grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, 56, is accused of trafficking £1.6million worth of cocaine onto Bali.

Prosecutors last month asked for her to be imprisoned for 15 years rather than face execution following her co-operation in the case.

Sandiford was paraded in front of the press after 10.6lb (4.8kg) of cocaine was supposedly found in the lining of her suitcase at Bali’s Denpasar Airport last May.

Dougall’s father Barry – who lives in Haywards Heath – told The Argus yesterday that he was relieved his daughter had received a lenient sentence.

He said: “I was expecting it to be a lot worse, so I’m quite relieved.

On trial

“I haven’t been able to speak to Rachel yet but I’m hoping she’ll be able to get in touch soon.”

Following the pair’s arrests, Dougall’s mother Stella Woodley, 75, of Withdean Rise, Brighton, and brother Asa, 51, said they were “devastated”.

Former antiques restorer Ponder and Sandiford’s trials are both continuing separately.

A fourth Briton accused of being part of the alleged gang, long term Bali resident Paul Beales, was sentenced to four years in prison last month for possession of a small amount of hashish.

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