A HOUSEWIFE from the North-East who could face a firing squad claims she was forced into smuggling £1.6m worth of cocaine.

Lindsay Sandiford, 55, originally from Redcar, east Cleveland, said she only agreed to fly into the Indonesian island of Bali after a drugs gang threatened to kill her youngest son.

The mother-of-two, who has lived in India for the past five years, said: “I knew what they were asking me to do was something dodgy. They weren't asking me to bring in tulips or balls of cheese but I didn't know if it was money, gold, jewellery, guns, marijuana or heroin. I had no idea.

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"Did I think about the consequences if I got caught? No, I thought more about the consequences if I didn't do it. The minute I got caught I just thought, 'My son's dead. I've failed, they will kill my son."

Mrs Sandiford was caught with £4.8kg of the drug hidden in the suitcase lining when she arrived on a flight from Bangkok last month.

Customs officials said she agreed to take part in a “sting” operation which led to the arrest of Britons Julian Ponder, 43, his partner Rachel Dougall, 38 and Paul Beales. All four maintain their innocence.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, she said: “I could get the death penalty. I am so frightened I could die here.”

Mrs Sandiford, who has also lived in London, said her youngest son, Elliot, 21, was on the run from a gang who believed he was a police informant.

“I got a call from someone - I don’t know who - telling me my boy was a snitch and they would kill him if I didn’t put things right.”

She added the man later called her in India, telling her she had to go to Bali to do a job for him.

Following a series of meetings in Bali he then ordered her to a Bangkok hotel to meet a man called ‘Chubby’.

“When Chubby turned up he came into the bedroom to get my suitcase and took it into the living room, then he came back into the bedroom and said ‘There’s your bag, see you in Bali’.”

She said she decided not to look in the suitcase’s secret compartment and just piled her belongings on top of it.

Mrs Sandiford, who faces the death penalty if convicted, said: "I did it to save my son and now I have put all our lives in danger because we all face the death penalty. I have cried so much I haven't got any tears left."