By Paula Roberts
ORDEAL: Daisy Angus pictured in 1998.
IT was meant to be the adventure of a lifetime.
Pretty Daisy Angus was just 22 when she embarked on a round-the-world trip.
But it led to a cell in India where she has just been sentenced to 10 years for smuggling cannabis. It will be another six years before she is freed.
Daisy had given up her job as a fitness instructor and health referral consultant at Bournemouth's Littledown Centre to travel.
But it was at Mumbai Airport in November 2002 when Daisy's future was shattered.
Customs officials stopped her as she put her bags through the x-ray machine.
Suspicious of what was inside, officers opened her suitcase and discovered 10kg of cannabis hidden in a secret compartment.
Initially Daisy insisted she was given the suitcase to use after her own bag broke.
A short time later her father, John Angus, told the Echo that Daisy knew there was something in the suitcase but not what it contained.
She later retracted the statement and protested her innocence.
Daisy has been kept in a small Indian cell while her case went through the slow judicial system.
When she first arrived, Daisy wrote in an letter to her mother: "I am in a barrack box, about eight metres by eight metres, one toilet, one bucket next to the toilet.
"I am here with 20 other foreigners all from African countries. I am the only European white girl.
"We all sleep on the floor, mat to mat in two rows and roll them up in the day. Otherwise we keep clean, sweep and mop everyday.
"From 7am to 12 noon and 3pm to 6pm they open our box for a wander.
"All the Indian ladies are next door, about 150 of them."
Daisy spent three years and seven months behind bars before she was convicted by a judge.
Her trial took over two years and involved more than 50 witnesses and three judges. In that time Daisy has been hospitalised on several occasions suffering from malaria and other infections.
Despite her ordeal, Daisy has made the most of the time she has spent behind bars. In letters home she told how she has learnt Hindi and is teaching English to the other women and children in her cell.
She has also campaigned for better conditions in the jail.
Those who know Daisy well remain adamant that she couldn't have knowingly smuggled drugs.
Her family and friends living in Bournemouth remain convinced she didn't commit the crime on purpose.
A friend said: "I will never, ever, believe that she's guilty naive, silly, trusting maybe, but never guilty. I am horrified she has been found guilty but I am sure she will work hard to make the most of her time there."
Daisy receives regular visits from the UK Embassy and has the backing of human rights advocate Kay Danes of the Foreign Prisoner Support Service.
On their website the service said: "FPSS would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Daisy and her family for what has been a nightmare experience. They have shown tremendous strength.
"We hope that the British Embassy is able to move this forward to bring Daisy home to the UK where she can receive proper care and support."
While Daisy completes the remaining six years of her 10-year sentence, her friends and family will be left wondering how a young woman with a great career ahead of her could have become embroiled in such a nightmare.
Daisy's late father John
From a young age Daisy has travelled far and wide. As a youngster she travelled with her parents when they undertook volunteer activities in India, Nepal, Poland and Africa.
At 15 she was chosen to be a member of the Young People's Comm- unity Training Foundation and was taken to a seminar in Moscow at the request of the Moscow International Film School. She also received her Duke of Edinburgh award and passed 11 GCSEs.
She attended Gumley House Convent School in London before moving to Dorset and enrolling at Brockenhurst College.
She won a British Council Youth Millennium award for her volunteer youth project in Uganda, Africa.
She also travelled to Mexico to look after a young man who had been paralysed in an accident and spent six months providing 24-hour care for him.
After this, she trained in Sports Health and started working at the Littledown Centre as an instructor.
Later she took on the role of GP Health Referral Consultant.
General manager Peter Brown said: "Everybody is really, really disappointed and devastated by it.
"There are some fantastic customers who will continue to write on block and pray for her, which is phenomenal. She captured the hearts of a lot of people."
Wednesday 12th July 2006