Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Club dancer with model potential

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly

Before being arrested in Peru, Michaella McCollum Connolly had shown her model potential in a shoot intended to launch her career.

The 20-year-old was building her professional portfolio with help from Belfast photographer Nichola Graham before heading off to Ibiza for a working holiday.

The series of shots which have now emerged were a bid to break into the competitive industry.

"Michaella was actually a lovely girl. She was working as a nightclub dancer but wanted to get out of that scene," the photographer said.

Looking comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera in the shots, her image is a far cry from the nervous-looking young woman in footage released after her arrest in Peru, where she had her hair tied up and she appeared terrified. Michaella looked pale and drawn as officers asked her and Melissa Reid (19) to explain the 11kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of £1.5m in their airport luggage.

The young woman, who has been on the books of several modelling agencies, was photographed by Ms Graham ahead of the fateful trip to Ibiza, which led her on to Peru.