Indonesia jails first British cocaine plot suspect



Denpasar:An Indonesian court Wednesday handed down the first sentence in a drug ring case involving four Britons on the holiday island of Bali, jailing one of the accused for four years.

Paul Beales, 40, was given the sentence for possession of hashish, but was cleared of more serious charges related to an alleged cocaine ring.

He was arrested in May with three other Britons and an Indian national in the alleged ring involving a 4.79-kilogramme (10.6 pounds) stash of cocaine worth an estimated 23 billion rupiah ($2.4 million).

But the Denpasar District Court in Bali dismissed charges of trafficking and the sale of drugs, finding him guilty of "possessing and storing" 3.6 grammes of hashish at his house on the resort island.

"The panel of judges sentence (Beales) to four years in jail and fine him 800 million rupiah ($83,000)," presiding judge John Tony Hutauruk told the court.

The court Thursday is slated to sentence Briton Rachel Dougall, facing a one-year jail term for possession.

It will also hear Thursday prosecutors' recommendation for Briton Lindsay June Sandiford, who was arrested at Denpasar's airport in May with the cocaine stash and helped police in a sting to net the others, including Beales.

Beales accepted the sentence but declined to speak to reporters.

His lawyer, Ketut Jaya, told reporters after the trial that Beales "never knew Sandiford and was never involved in her case in any way".

"The hashish found at his home was for personal consumption, as the court heard," he said.
The fourth suspect, Julian Ponder, had his case postponed on Tuesday. He stands accused of collecting cocaine from Sandiford and could face the death penalty, according to his indictment.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties including death and life imprisonment for drug trafficking.

Two members of an Australian drug smuggling gang known as the "Bali Nine" who were arrested in 2005 are on death row, while the seven others face lengthy jail terms.

Australian Schapelle Corby was sentenced in 2005 to 20 years in prison for smuggling 4.1 kilos of marijuana, but recently received a presidential clemency which slashed five years from her term on top of several previous remissions.

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