A British grandmother to eight who smuggled £1 million worth of cocaine on a cruise ship with her husband has died in agony in a rat-infested Portuguese jail.
Retired secretary Susan Clarke, 72, died of breast cancer last Sunday after being allowed a final visit from partner Roger, 73, who was locked up in a separate prison, The Mirror has reported.
The couple, from Chatham in Kent, were sentenced to eight years behind bars in September 2019.
A source told The Mirror Susan died alone and ‘in pain’ after suffering a lump in her throat which prevented her from speaking.
Susan Clarke and husband Roger were jailed in 2019 for smuggling cocaine on a cruise
‘She was handed a life sentence – left to die in a foreign prison with no loved ones around her’, they said.
‘Four weeks ago she was given one last visit with Roger. They saw each other through a Perspex window.
‘She was in so much pain. Roger seems to think they had won a battle to come back to the UK to, so he’s devastated that she wasn’t well enough to make the move.’
The grandparents were arrested after police found 20lb of cocaine in the linings of four suitcases, during their journey on the Marco Polo liner from the Caribbean to Lisbon.
Susan Clarke and husband Roger were jailed for smuggling Class A drugs on a cruise from the Caribbean to Portugal
Prosecutors described the couple as drug mules who had smuggled drugs into the UK on four cruises in two years making thousands of pounds each trip, according to The Mirror.
Susan had been living in Lisbon’s EP Tires prison, which is home to murderers, sharing a small cell with four other women.
Half a year after her sentencing, Susan told The Mirror she felt she had been handed ‘a death sentence’ after losing two and a half stone, adding that she felt abandoned by the UK Foreign Office.
The couple said they thought they were smuggling exotic fruit and were previously sentenced for smuggling 240kg of cannabis into Norway in 2010.
After serving prison time they had moved to a villa in Guardamar, Spain.
Susan and Roger Clarke said they thought they were carrying exotic fruit in their suitcases but cocaine was found and they were locked up in separate Portuguese jails
The Foreign Office said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British woman who died in Portugal.’
Mrs Clarke previously denied having anything to do with the cocaine found in the couple’s suitcases on the Marco Polo cruise ship.
She made her complaints in a letter sent to a friend of the family and seen by The Mail on Sunday.
Mrs Clarke wrote: ‘It’s very hard here, especially with the language difference. I’m in a room with four other women and only one speaks English. It is very cold. There is no heating at all.
‘We only get one hot drink a day, with breakfast, then water with lunch and dinner.’
She added: ‘I can honestly say that we had no idea what was happening until the police in Portugal searched our luggage.’
British grandparents Susan and Roger Clarke were caught smuggling cocaine in the lining of their suitcases on a cruise from the Caribbean to Portugal in 2018, and they were locked up in 2019
Referring to a previous conviction in Norway for smuggling cannabis resin, she said: ‘After what happened before, we would never have done this in a million years.
‘Also, at our age, and having a nice life in Spain, why would we risk everything?’
The friend who received the letter said that before Mrs Clarke left Britain to live in Spain, she was a devoted and loving mother who ran a comfortable home for her first husband and their three children in Cheadle, Cheshire.
Mild-mannered and ‘not particularly rebellious’, she took part in amateur dramatics productions and was a Coronation Street fan.
But she left her husband and adolescent children behind after meeting Roger in the early 2000s, and the couple emigrated.