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Pensioner jailed for smuggling cocaine fears dying in jail after developing suspected breast cancer

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British pensioner, 71, jailed for smuggling £1million of cocaine on luxury Caribbean cruise fears dying behind bars in Portugal after developing suspected breast cancer

  • Susan Clarke, 71, was jailed for eight years for smuggling £1million of cocaine
  • Grandmother found a lump in her left breast and is waiting for biopsy results
  • Has lost more than two and a half stone since she was convicted in September
  • Husband Roger, 72, jailed at another Portuguese jail and said to be in bad health
  • The pair, from Kent, were arrested after 9lbs of cocaine found in their suitcases   

A British pensioner who is serving an eight-year sentence for smuggling £1million of cocaine on a cruise has said she fears she will die behind bars.

Susan Clarke, 71, is jailed at Portugal’s maximum-security prison EP Tires and is now waiting for biopsy results after she found a lump in her left breast. 

The grandmother-of-eight, from Kent, has grown frail and lost more than two and a half stone since she was convicted alongside her husband Roger, 72.

She told the Sunday People: ‘We were made an example of but I’ve been handed a death sentence. My worry is that I’ll never be free and I’ll be leaving here in a box.’

British pensioner Susan Clarke, 71, has said she fears she will die behind bars after finding a lump in her breast while serving eight years for drug smuggling in Portugal (pictured with her husband Roger, 72, who is also behind bars)

Mrs Clarke, whose appeal has been unsuccessful, added: ‘I may never get out of here alive and there’s no way I can reduce my sentence now.

‘We feel completely abandoned. The Foreign Office has ignored us, Boris Johnson has not helped and we have been completely cut adrift.’

It has now been 14 months since Mrs Clarke was arrested and she is now sharing a small cell with three other women.

However the grandmother, who takes medication for high blood pressure, vertigo, reflux and arthritis, says she is more worried about her husband.

She said that Mr Clarke had to have an emergency operation to remove an ulcer and added that ‘if something isn’t done for Roger soon then he will die here.’

The retired couple were jailed last September after being found guilty of trying to smuggle cocaine into Europe on a £6,800 luxury Caribbean cruise.

The retired couple were jailed after being found guilty of trying to smuggle drugs into Europe on a £6,800 Caribbean cruise

Police found 9lbs of cocaine hidden inside the lining of four suitcases

The retired couple were jailed after being found guilty of trying to smuggle drugs into Europe on a £6,800 Caribbean cruise. Police found 9lbs of cocaine hidden inside the lining of four suitcases (right, police taking apart one of the bags and left the cases on a bed)

Mrs Clarke is serving her time at Portugal's maximum-security prison EP Tires (pictured) and has lost more than two and a half stone since she was convicted last September

Mrs Clarke is serving her time at Portugal’s maximum-security prison EP Tires (pictured) and has lost more than two and a half stone since she was convicted last September

Three judges convicted retired chef Mr Clarke and his ex-secretary wife of drugs trafficking after a one-day trial at Lisbon’s main criminal court.

They were told they will serve their sentences in Portugal instead of being sent back to Britain to do their jail time as a state prosecutor had requested.

The pair, who had been living in Spain, were arrested on board cruise liner Marco Polo on December 4, 2018, by Portuguese police acting on a tip-off from Britain’s National Crime Agency.

They discovered 9lbs of cocaine hidden inside the lining of four suitcases Mr Clarke had been handed in St Lucia. 

Bromley-born Mr Clarke, insisted he had no idea the cocaine was hidden in the lining of four suitcases picked up on the paradise island of St Lucia.

Clarke told the court he was taking the suitcases back to the UK for a friend called Lee who had promised to pay him £800 and bragged he could sell them for a massive profit at upmarket stores such as Harrods.

The couple, who had been living in Spain and are from Kent, were arrested on board cruise liner Marco Polo on December 4, 2018, by Portuguese police acting on a tip-off from Britain's National Crime Agency

The couple, who had been living in Spain and are from Kent, were arrested on board cruise liner Marco Polo on December 4, 2018, by Portuguese police acting on a tip-off from Britain’s National Crime Agency

Mr and Mrs Clarke (pictured together) had previously both served prison sentences in Norway after being convicted in 2010 for trafficking 240 kilos of cannabis resin

Mr and Mrs Clarke (pictured together) had previously both served prison sentences in Norway after being convicted in 2010 for trafficking 240 kilos of cannabis resin 

Mr Clarke, who held hands with his wife as they learnt their fate through a translator, whispered to her: ‘Jesus Christ, I was not expecting more than four years. I’ll be 80 when all this is over.’ 

During the trial Mr Clarke also confirmed they had both served prison sentences in Norway after being convicted in 2010 for trafficking 240 kilos of cannabis resin.

He said he had done a first drugs run to clear debts and was made to do more with his wife as cover after being threatened with violence by gangster paymasters if he stopped.

The smuggler, who was born Roger Button but changed his surname to Clarke after finishing his prison sentence, was jailed for nearly five year and Susan for three years nine months.

Portuguese prosecutors say they believe the Clarkes were making between £18,000 and £26,500 plus extras per cruise they took so they could smuggle drugs into Europe.

Britain’s NCA said they believed the couple were planning to offload the cocaine in Portugal but Policia Judiciaria inspector Carla Nunes told their trial she thought the final destination was the UK.

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