Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Peru drugs arrest: Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid could serve their prison terms in UK

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly

Michaella McCollum Connolly could be allowed to serve her jail sentence in the UK – if she pleads guilty to drug trafficking.

The alleged drug mule from Northern Ireland has been told that she could spend 15 years in a Peruvian jail if she is convicted of trying to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine onto a flight to Spain.

However, a prosecutor in Peru yesterday confirmed that Ms McCollum Connolly and her co-accused Melissa Reid could serve their sentences in the UK if they plead guilty to the offence.

Prosecutor Luis Mendoza, who specialises in the area of narcotics, indicated that the two women could be entitled to return home in order to complete the terms.

"The British citizens agree to the position of the Public Ministry, if they continue with their strategy they can go to trial," he said.

"However, they are able to qualify for an early termination, which means they probably could get a sentence of six to eight years maximum. It's very possible that they may complete their sentence in the United Kingdom.

"There is an agreement in our country that those convicted can choose an early termination procedure, assuming their guilt and paying civil damages and agreeing to the judgment, meaning there is no kind of appeal."

The comments are sure to be closely examined by Dungannon woman Ms McCollum Connolly's family and solicitor Peter Madden.

Mr Madden did not respond to requests for comment.

Reid's family have already strongly indicated that they will pursue a path which will allow her to serve out her sentence in the UK.

Although the Glasgow woman's family still maintain the girls were forced to smuggle the drugs, they say they are determined to get her home.

"We still believe she was coerced into it, but obviously now we realise she needs to plead guilty, just to get her home, basically," according to her mother Debbie Reid.

Ms McCollum Connolly and Ms Reid, both 20, have been in prison in Peru since last month after they were caught with cocaine in their suitcases at Lima Airport.

The pair reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were both kidnapped at gunpoint in Spain and then forced to travel to South America in order to smuggle the drugs.

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