Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Michaella undergoes treatment for insect bites and ‘severe swelling’ in Peru jail

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits

The Northern Irish model accused of trying to smuggle €1.7m worth of cocaine out of Peru is receiving medical treatment for insect bites.

Michaella McCollum Connolly (20), from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is currently being held at the assessment centre of Lima’s Virgen de Fatima jail while she awaits trial.

Along with Scottish woman Melissa Reid (20), the former nightclub hostess is facing trial in connection to the drug smuggling allegations.

Both women were stopped as they tried to board a plane to Spain from Lima with 11kg of cocaine concealed in food packages in their luggage last month.

They face 15 years in jail if they are found guilty.

Both have claimed they were forced into carrying the drugs and were in fear of their lives.

Speaking today on ITV programme ‘This Morning’, Debra Reid, the mother of Melissa Reid, revealed that both women were receiving medical treatment for insect bites which led to severe swelling.

“They’ve actually been bitten by some bugs that are in the assessment unit they are being held in,” she said.

“I believe they’ve had an injection to try and stop them [from swelling up].”

Mrs Reid said she was pleased that both women were in the assessment centre and had not been split up as they had initially feared.

The language barrier is proving difficult for both, and Melissa has told her parents she is keen to learn Spanish “so she can speak to the guards and fellow prisoners”.

Last week, Melissa’s father William Reid said he wanted his daughter to plead guilty as their case is “indefensible”.

Speaking this morning, Melissa’s mother said she believed their explanation they had been threatened and coerced into carrying the drugs.

However, she also wants them to plead guilty in the hope they will get a lesser sentence

“I do believe they were definitely coerced into it,” she said.

“They didn’t do it willingly.

“They definitely did have drugs in their suitcases, that part they are guilty of, but I do believe they were coerced into it.

“If Melissa pleads guilty we’ll get her home earlier.”

If the women plead guilty ahead of their trial, it’s believed the sentence will be somewhere in the region of three years.

If they plead not guilty, and are subsequently found guilty, they could face 15 years in jail.

“It’s the best years of your life, from 20 to 35,” Mrs Reid said.

The pair are due to appear before a court in Peru next Tuesday.

They are expected to give full statements to a judge before entering a plea.

It could take up to two years before the case is fully heard.

 

Jane Last

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