British woman sentenced to death by firing squad for cocaine smuggling was a ‘neighbour from hell’


The British woman facing the death penalty for trafficking cocaine worth £1.6 million into Bali was branded a “neighbour from hell” by residents who lived nearby her former home.

Housewife Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was allegedly caught with 4.7kg of the Class A drug hidden in a suitcase when she landed on the Indonesian island.

The mum-of-two is currently understood to be living in Redcar, Cleveland, but was previously a tenant in a £275,000 detached property in Cheltenham, Glos.

Yesterday neighbours described how she outwardly appeared to be a respectable middle class mother – but was actually a nuisance neighbour.

A 63-year-old man who lived next door said she was evicted around five years ago for failing to pay rent.

He said: “She gives off the impression that she’s a well-to-do middle-aged woman, but she’s not at all.

“She was always up to no good – a real neighbour from hell.”

The man claimed she used to have men coming and going from her house at all hours of the night, and the police were regular visitors because she had trouble keeping her two boys in school.

The grey detached pebbledash house is on a quiet residential street away from the main road, in a row of houses hidden behind a line of large bushes.

He added: “It doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s been arrested for drugs.

“I don’t know what was going on really – and I suspect neither does she.

“I think she was spaced out all the time on drugs, she had a vacant look.

“Her house was burgled because she borrowed money from someone and did not pay it back. From what I remember, they gutted the place.”

He added: “The police were always charging in now and again because she was always up to no good.

“She’s the sort of person you would not want to live next door.”

The 63-year-old former neighbour added: “The whole family was a bad lot.

“One of her lads was sent to a special school because he never used to go to school.

“Police were called because the boys were beating their mother and she was having a go at them.

“There were people turning up looking for money. Guys used to turn up in blacked out cars, talking on one mobile phone then another mobile phone – she was clearly up to no good.”

He said: “They made a lot of racket with their coming and going. The boys used to get drunk with their friends in the road.

“When they were kicked out, the house was empty for seven months because it was damaged.

“I think the boys were playing golf in there.”

The former neighbour said: “She gave the impression when she first moved up here that she had friends in high places, and people like that were friendly to her but after a while that disintegrated and she went downhill.”

Maria Swift, 47, worked with Lindsay Sandiford 10 years ago at DTS Legal.

Mrs Swift, who now works with vulnerable adults, said: “People would send her their paperwork and she would look at it and price it up for them.

“I’m not sure what you’d call her job title but that’s what she did.

“I’m very surprised she’s now gone from the legal into the illegal though.

“It would be a shame if she did end up on death row, but the law’s the law at the end of the day.”

Mrs Swift, who met the 56-year-old through her two children, described her as a “very bubbly, fine person, who never did me wrong”.

She added: “We met through our boys playing rugby, she was lovely and invited me to work.

“I knew her right up until I left the company about 10 years ago.

“There were rumours a couple of years back she had gone to India to set up an orphanage, but that’s only hear-say, I never saw her to ask her.”

Mrs Swift said that she thought Sandiford’s two sons, were no longer in the Cheltenham area.

She speculated that Lewis, now 24, was in prison, while Eliot, 22, is in London with his father.

Sandiford is no stranger to media attention having appeared in her local paper twice.

She first appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo in July 2004 after a row with her local education authority over her troubled son Eliot, then 14.

He was left without a school place after being suspended from Cheltenham Bournside School 16 times and eventually sent to a ‘re-integration unit’.

After the story appeared Gloucestershire County Council quickly found Eliot, who is now aged 22, a place at Coln House School.

Speaking in 2004, Sandiford – who also has a son Lewis, 24 – said her son was “no angel” and struggled with emotional and behavioural problems.

She said: “I tried Kingsmead, St Benedict’s, Pittville, the lot. But they didn’t have any spare places.

“They were all over subscribed for Year 8. He doesn’t want to be at the re-integration unit, he wants to go to a normal school.

“I’m going out of my mind. There’s no place for my son and he’s supposed to start his GCSEs in September.

“The LEA has a legal obligation to find my son a place at school.

“I have a bright boy who has been treated miserably by the education system in this county.

“This isn’t about what’s gone before. Eliot’s lost those years and will never get them back.

“No parent should have to go what I’ve been through and no child should have to suffer like Eliot.”

Eliot struggled to adapt when he moved to Cheltenham in 1997 and was sent to Charlton Kings Junior School.

Things became worse when he moved to Cheltenham Bournside School and he was suspended 16 times.

He began to smash up the family home and Lindsay took parenting classes at Cheltenham Community Projects to learn how to control him.

In March 2003 Eliot was left with no school to go to and after being sent to a re-integration unit it was determined by an educational psychologist that he needed specialist schooling.

He was accepted at Sandford School in Seven Springs but the LEA said it wasn’t suitable.

Instead the authority wanted to send him to Cam House School in Dursley but Sandiford complained it had no residential places and was too far to travel.

When given his place at Coln House School Eliot said he was looking forward to going back to school, adding that he would try his best to behave.

He said: “I’m pleased. I’m happy. I want to go to school and learn. I’m really going to try to behave.”

Lindsay also appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo in 2007, slamming her local Game shop after staff refused to fix Eliot’s #400 Xbox.

She described her son, then 17, as mentally disabled and said he had been left distraught after the device and #600 worth of games stopped working.

The mother-of-two told the paper: “I took it back in its original box which still has the barcode on it. I don’t have a receipt for it anymore and I paid for it with cash.

“Surely they can trace the Xbox back to their shop using the barcode, but they won’t.

“When you pay that amount of money you don’t expect it to break down seven months later and if it does, I’d expect much better service than this.

“I’ve offered to pay for the repair if they can send it to Microsoft, but they won’t do anything.

“They keep saying that without a receipt they can’t.

“I don’t accept they can’t do anything with the barcode. I’m trying to stay calm about this for Eliot’s sake, but inside I’m raging.

“If they won’t send it back to Microsoft I want a refund or a replacement.”

A spokesman for Game told the paper they were unable to exchange the broken Xbox without a receipt.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here