British father accused of Bali drug running pleads for his six-year-old daughter
A BRITISH father who may face the firing squad in Bali after being accused of involvement in an international cocaine trafficking ring vowed to clear his name on Thursday and expressed concern for the wellbeing of his 6-year-old daughter.
Speaking briefly to the Daily Telegraph, Julian Ponder, 43, denied involvement in what police have labelled an "international network" of traffickers who they claim tried to smuggle 11lb of cocaine into Bali, Indonesia.
"I can't really comment at the moment but you will see what has happened in due course," he said as he was escorted out of his cell for interrogation past a gold sign reading: 'Fight Crime, Help Delinquent, Love Humanity.'
"I'm really worried about my daughter," Mr Ponder added, before being led away wearing an orange prison uniform.
Mr Ponder was one of three Britons arrested in Bali last week after police snared 55-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, a "housewife" from Redcar in northeast England, as she allegedly attempted to smuggle £1.6m worth of cocaine through the island's international airport from Bangkok on May 19.
Police also arrested Mr Ponder's 38-year-old partner, Rachel Dougall, who shared a luxurious country villa on the island with him and their 6-year-old daughter.
An Indian man who used to live in London and has a British wife and two children was also captured. The third Briton has been named as Paul Beales, a British "property developer" and 15-year resident of the Indonesian holiday island.
Beales told the Daily Telegraph he had no idea how long he might spend behind bars but said he was being treated "OK" by the local police.
As he was escorted back to his cell from questioning on Thursday morning, clutching a dirty white pillow and a plastic bag filled with clothes, Mr Beales declined to say if he would plead innocent or guilty.
But asked how long he expected to remain in the crowded jail, he shook his head in frustration. "I don't know mate," he said.
Beales was led back to his cell wearing Bermuda shorts and a white T-shirt with a crucifix stamped onto its back. As he stepped through the metal bars cheers and shouting broke out among the other inmates, many of whom also face drug charges. Half an hour later he was taken for questioning again, this time wearing an orange prison uniform stamped with the number 085.
Asked if he had a message for his family, he gave a thumbs-up and said: "I love my kids. I love my kids."
Sandiford, whose capture led to the arrests, refused to answer questions from the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, covering her face with her hands as she was led out for questioning.
But police say she has been co-operating with them in the hope of securing a reduced sentence in a country where drug trafficking carries the death sentence. On Thursday one police source said Sandiford had requested a separate cell after she claimed she had been threatened inside the small jail, where there is only one cell for women. At just after noon on Thursday she was moved to another part of the police HQ complex afternoon carrying her belongings in a red bag. An official from the British consulate visited the jail but refused to comment on the case.
So far little is known about Mr Beales' activities in Bali. The Telegraph understands he had lived here for around 15 years prior to his arrest. He is married and has two children with the Indonesian manager of an upscale bar. Locals say he is close friends with Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall. Their connection to Ms Sandiford remains a mystery.
One British expat in Bali said: "I'm not surprised by any of it to be honest. Paul has been here a long time and has a reputation for being a bit of a wheeler-dealer type. Even his physique has changed over the years, he used to be thin and now he looks bloated and completely different."
When police raided Mr Beales home in the upmarket Banjar Anyar area of Bali last week, they claim to have found around 3.1 grams of hashish.
Members of the expat community also shed light on the Bali-lives of Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall.
"They lived a fairly quiet life except when they were seen at the pub where they hung out regularly, often with their daughter, and they were seen regularly drinking heavily and fighting with each other," said one local on the condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday Mr Ponder and Ms Dougall's lawyer, Mr Suroso, claimed the pair had been "trapped" by police and Ms Sandiford, who had reputedly given him a package covered in pink wrapping paper and containing cocaine.
"Of course they are innocent. There is no proof yet that they are guilty. I am confident [they will be cleared]," he said.