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Bali drugs arrests: Villagers say Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall lived high life

Bali drugs arrests: Villagers say Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall lived high life

access_time May 30, 2012 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments
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  • Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall lived in a £1,000-a-week palatial villa
  • They became known for their aloof behaviour and extravagant use of household staff

By Arthur Martin and Richard Shears

PUBLISHED: 17:59 EST, 30 May 2012 | UPDATED: 17:59 EST, 30 May 2012

Their wealthy and mysterious lifestyle has long been a source of intrigue for locals.

Many wondered how Julian Ponder, 43, and Rachel Dougall, 38, were able to afford the £1,000-a-week rent on their palatial villa, given that they seldom seemed to work.

The British couple even became known as the ‘King and Queen’ of Bali because of their aloof behaviour and extravagant use of household staff.

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'King and Queen' of Bali: Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall became known for their aloof behaviour and extravagant use of household staff

‘King and Queen’ of Bali: Julian Ponder and Rachel Dougall became known for their aloof behaviour and extravagant use of household staff

Torn apart: Rachel Dougall and her husband Julian Ponder have been separated from their daughter Kitty, who remains at their luxury holiday villa

Torn apart: Rachel Dougall and her husband Julian Ponder have been separated from their daughter Kitty, who remains at their luxury holiday villa

And yesterday, as the former antiques restorers spent yet another day in police cells accused of masterminding an international drug-smuggling syndicate, locals claimed they had long suspected foul play.

One villager said: ‘Some of us wondered how they were able to live so well without seeming to be doing any work. A few of my friends mentioned the word drugs but there was never any evidence of it.’

Another said the couple, who moved to Bali from Brighton four years ago, never revealed details of their secretive business to their household staff.

The pair would spend days behind the walls of their villa with a swimming pool – set among rice paddies in Tabanan, a district in the south of the holiday isle.

‘To us they gave the impression of being like a king and queen in their castle and we were just poor people that they might give a reluctant smile to,’ a villager said.

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‘We often wondered who they were, what they did, because they hardly went out.’

Luxury: One villager said Ponder and Dougall would spend days behind the walls of their villa with a swimming pool

Luxury: One villager said Ponder and Dougall would spend days behind the walls of their villa with a swimming pool

At home: Daughter Kitty, pictured in the villa without her parents, will be flown to the UK

At home: Daughter Kitty, pictured in the villa without her parents, will be flown to the UK

The couple were arrested this week together with fellow Briton Paul Beales after alleged drugs smuggler Lindsay Sandiford led police to them.

The 55-year-old housewife, a former legal secretary from Redcar in Cleveland, agreed to the sting operation after being caught allegedly carrying cocaine worth £1.6million into Bali on a flight from Bangkok on May 19.

All four suspects could face death by firing squad if they are convicted.

A team of 20 police and customs officers put Mrs Sandiford under surveillance as she was allowed to attend meetings at hotels and villas across Bali with the alleged buyers.

Terrifying prospect: The couple are likely to be put on death row at Bali's notorious Kerobokan prison, pictured, if found guilty of smuggling cocaine on to the island

Terrifying prospect: The couple are likely to be put on death row at Bali’s notorious Kerobokan prison, pictured, if found guilty of smuggling cocaine on to the island

The team stormed in moments after Mrs Sandiford allegedly passed drugs to Mr Ponder.

Police claim to have found drugs hidden in cigarette packets at Mr Ponder’s luxury villa. Mr Ponder yesterday claimed he thought Mrs Sandiford was bringing a present for his daughter’s sixth birthday.

‘Julian Ponder believes 100 per cent that he was trapped by Lindsay,’ his lawyer told ITV News.

The police have 60 days to hand over their files to prosecutors. Meanwhile the suspects will be forced to stay in their crowded communal cells.

Detained: Miss Dougall (left) was arrested after the sting operation Lindsay Sandiford (right) agreed to carry out

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Harsh conditions: Both women are being held at a jail in the Balinese capital

Miss Dougall yesterday begged police to let her hug her daughter Kitty one last time before the child is flown back to the UK.

Last night Miss Dougall’s father Barry, 64, cast doubt on Mr Ponder’s previous business dealings in the UK.

Public records state that he ran an antiques restoration business called Pen Productions Ltd for ten years until 2008.

'Singing like a bird': Lindsay Sandiford being escorted by police for interrogation at Bali police HQ

Questions: Lindsay Sandiford being escorted by police for interrogation at Bali police HQ

Distressed: Alleged drug trafficker identified as Lindsay Sandiford in front of the huge pile of cocaine at the Customs Office in Denpasar, Bali

Distressed: Alleged drug trafficker Lindsay Sandiford covers her eyes as a huge pile of cocaine is displayed at the Customs Office in Denpasar, Bali

However Mr Dougall, of Haywards Heath, West Sussex, said: ‘I have been in antiques in Brighton for over 40 years and I have never heard the name Julian Ponder.

‘I know everyone in the restoration trade and I have been on the phone asking round but no one has ever heard of him.

‘We are talking about someone who was clearly running a successful business and had a nice flat but I can find no trace of Pen Productions’ existence.

'Neighbour from hell': Sandiford lived at this £275,000 property which she had rented in Cheltenham

British address: Sandiford lived at this £275,000 property which she had rented in Cheltenham

'Conspirators': A younger British woman, centre, and three others suspected of being on hand to receive the drugs were arrested and dressed in prison uniforms with their faces covered by black balaclavas

‘Conspirators’: A younger British woman, centre, and three others suspected of being on hand to receive the drugs were arrested and dressed in prison uniforms with their faces covered by black balaclavas

Paraded: Three Britons and an Indian national were seen dressed in ill-fitting orange outfits and flip-flops after their arrests

Paraded: Three Britons and an Indian national were seen dressed in ill-fitting orange outfits and flip-flops after their arrests

‘Nobody in my circle knows him and if he had been doing it all that time I would at least recognise his face. I imagine I would have bumped into Rachel a lot more as well.’

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Meanwhile, Mr Beales protested his innocence yesterday. Speaking from behind the bars of the tiny cell he shares with seven other men in Denpasar, he said: ‘This is a nightmare. I’m not involved with drugs. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m scared, of course I am.

‘My wife can bring in food but she’s only allowed in twice a week. I have a flat bit of cardboard to sit on and we have one mattress that we share.’

On show: The suspect accused of hiding 4.7kg (11lbs) of cocaine in her luggage is led through a custom office in Denpasar, Bali

On show: The suspect accused of hiding 4.7kg (11lbs) of cocaine in her luggage is led through a custom office in Denpasar, Bali

Fair Trials International, a human rights charity, said yesterday that it could provide legal help.

Bruno Min, who is a direct assistance manager, said Mrs Sandiford had been paraded before the cameras as if she was already guilty.

He added: ‘It makes it difficult for us to assume there would be a presumption of innocence, in which case it would be impossible in most circumstances to get a fair trial.’

Arrests: Sandiford was detained at Denpasar Airport on the paradise island of Bali, Indonesia

Arrests: Sandiford was detained at Denpasar Airport on the paradise island of Bali, Indonesia

Island paradise: Bali was once a haven for drugs but in the past ten years the authorities have cracked down on the importation of narcotics and anyone found with more than a few grams of Class A drugs faces death

Island paradise: Bali was once a haven for drugs but in the past ten years the authorities have cracked down on the importation of narcotics and anyone found with more than a few grams of Class A drugs faces death

Spectacular: Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Bali every year for the sublime views

Spectacular: Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Bali every year for the sublime views

Do you know any of the Bali drug suspects? Contact MailOnline by calling 020 7938 6000.

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