Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Peru drug arrests: Michaella McCollum Connolly due to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty

Police escort Melissa Reid, front, and Michaella McCollum Connolly, formally charged for drug trafficking outside a court in Lima, Peru
Police escort Melissa Reid, front, and Michaella McCollum Connolly, formally charged for drug trafficking outside a court in Lima, Peru
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid from the National Police anti-drug headquarters in Peru
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

Dungannon dule mule Michaella McCollum Connolly is due to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty during her trial in Peru over trying to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine onto a flight to Spain.

Michaella (20), was conveyed to a Lima court on Tuesday in a prison van alongside her co-accused, Melissa Reild (20), from Glasgow, who also pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine.

In video footage outside the court yesterday, Michaella was seen clutching a large bottle of water, while Melissa walked behind her carrying a bag.

Both women kept their eyes to the ground as they were walked to the van by prison officers.

The pair are accused of attempting to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine from the Peruvian capital of Lima to Spain.

A spokesman for the court in Callao said: "They will automatically have a sixth off from the minimum jail sentence of eight years and will be sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

"Sentencing will take place on October 1 at a new hearing."

The two women were both charged with the illegal trafficking of just over 5kg of cocaine each last month and have been held in remand in the Virgen de Fatima Women's prison in the city.

Both women have claimed they were kidnapped by a drugs gang and were threatened to carry the drugs, and both have admitted carrying the drugs in their luggage, but said they were coerced.

"I understand that the [judicial] process will be simpler if we both plead guilty," Michaella said.

"We are hoping that we will not have to wait too long before we are sentenced and pleading guilty will speed things up."

Ahead of their court appearance on Tuesday, Michaella said they were both "nervous" and anxious to learn their fate.

"We have heard so many rumours about the possibility of early release or serving our sentence at home, that it is difficult to know what to believe."

"We are trying not to get our hopes up," she added.

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