Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Peru drug arrests: Melissa Reid 'to plead guilty' over alleged cocaine smuggling

Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly (right) and Melissa Reid (front) in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly (right) and Melissa Reid (front) in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Michaella McCollum Connolly is escorted in handcuffs into a car by police as she leaves the National Police anti-drug headquarters before being driven to a court where she will be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Michaella McCollum Connolly is escorted in handcuffs into a car by police as she leaves the National Police anti-drug headquarters
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and Melissa Reid in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and Melissa Reid in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013

One of the so-called 'Peru two' is planning to plead guilty over her alleged cocaine smuggling in exchange for a shorter sentence.

Reid (20), along with Dungannon model and nightclub hostess Michaella McCollum Connolly, were arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.7 million out of Peru last month.

Melissa, from Scotland hopes a plea deal will see her get home to Glasgow as soon as possible, she told the British newspaper Mail on Sunday.

Her deal could get her sentence cut from up to 25 years to just six years and eight months.

Melissa's family believes she could be released in three years, the paper said.

In a telephone interview Miss Reid, who is in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital, Lima, told the publication she did not want to be in prison until she was 35.

"I am really scared about what I am about to do but I am also relieved that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

"I'm now coming to terms with the fact I am so far away from my family. This is real.

"After a lot of thought and advice from my lawyer I am going to go in front of the judge and admit I was in possession of the drugs and that I went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain - I am willing to plead guilty to that.

"I did it under duress, I still maintain that, and I am glad I do not have to say I accepted money to do it."

Reid was stopped along with Michaella, 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, with 24lb (11kg) of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain last month.

The pair claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members.

They have reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

Miss Reid's father William has previously said he believes the pair should plead guilty in order to get the legal process over quickly.

He told the Mail on Sunday: "We are considering this as good a result as we could have hoped for.

"It seems strange to be happy about the prospect of your 20-year-old daughter being sentenced to six years and eight months in jail, but we are delighted.

"Crucially, we could start pushing for her to be transferred to Scotland."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz