A 72-year-old British woman who had been sentenced to eight years in a Portuguese prison for smuggling drugs has died behind bars.

Susan Clarke was arrested alongside husband Roger, 73, as their cruise ship sailed into Lisbon in December 2018. Police were acting on a tip-off, and found 9kg of cocaine in the linings of four of the couple’s suitcases on board the luxury Marco Polo cruise liner.

The couple claimed they thought they were smuggling exotic fruit after Roger picked up the suitcases while the ship was docked in St Lucia. However, they had previously been caught smuggling 240kg of cannabis into Norway in 2004, but skipped bail and changed their names from Button to Clarke.

Eventually, they were extradited and served time in a Norwegian prison. It is believed the couple had carried out multiple smuggling trips before a sniffer dog detected drugs in their old Nissan in Oslo.

The couple are from the southeastern English town of Chatham, in Kent, and tried to reinvent themselves as British expats living in Spain. But it is believed they worked for a drug gang, regularly smuggling cocaine into Europe on up to six cruises a year.

Susan found a lump in her breast last year and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer, but was due to be transferred to a British prison to serve out the rest of her sentence. A source told The Mirror that doctors had decided there was nothing they could do for her, so they ceased all treatments.

A month ago, she had one last visit with Roger, seeing him through a Perspex window. The source told The Mirror, “She was in so much pain. Roger seems to think they had won a battle to come back to the UK too, so he’s devastated that she wasn’t well enough to make the move.”

She died on Sunday, after spending two years sharing a 3m x 3m rat-infested cell with three other women at the maximum security Portuguese prison, EP Tires in Sao Domingo de Rana, west of Lisbon.

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This article first appeared on Over60.