Teacher, drug smuggler, convict, graduate
Sandra Gregory lived in Thailand for two years. In Bangkok she had a circle of friends, two teaching jobs and her own flat. But she fell ill with amoebic dysentery and dengue fever, lost her jobs and ran out of money. With mounting medical bills and desperate to return to the UK, she accepted a heroin addict’s offer to smuggle his personal supply of drugs in exchange for money for a ticket home. Ultimately it took her over seven years to get home.
She was arrested at Bangkok airport and convicted of drug trafficking. Serving 4½ years in the notorious Lard Yao prison, dubbed the ‘Bangkok Hilton’, she witnessed scenes of horrific brutality and suffering, before being transferred to a British jail to serve the rest of her 25 year sentence. During this time her parents mounted a tireless campaign to keep Sandra in the public eye and lobby for her release.
“Sandra Gregory has a story to tell. It is the story of an ordeal that would have broken most people and came close to breaking her. Its redeeming features are her courage and resilience, and the love and loyalty of her family”
Martin Bell OBE
Her story is a powerful warning to anyone thinking of smuggling illegal drugs, but also a damning indictment of western prisons, where inmate’s bodies are fed, but their minds are neglected, leading to depression, and all too often suicide.
But this is also a story of redemption – Sandra has always admitted her guilt, unlike many Westerners in foreign jails, who too often claim that their drugs were planted.
She received a pardon from the King of Thailand in 2000 and on return to the UK started delivering talks to young people in schools on behalf of the McLellan Practice to warn of the dangers of drugs smuggling. Sandra wrote about her experiences in her book ‘Forget You Had a Daughter: Doing Time in the Bangkok Hilton’.
In 2002 she started a three-year BA Hons course after accepting an offer from Oxford University. She graduated in 2005 with a 2:1 in Geography. Sandra’s story has been featured in the ‘Banged Up Abroad’ TV series and she is a regular contributor in the media on issues related to UK citizens and drugs smuggling.