Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Peru drugs girl 'will plead guilty'

Melissa Reid will admit drug charges in exchange for a shorter sentence

The family of o ne of two British women arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of Peru have said she will plead guilty to "play the game" and avoid a heftier sentence.

Melissa Reid, 20, from Glasgow, was stopped along with Michaella McCollum, 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.

Reid and McCollum have so far claimed they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members

Her father, Billy Reid, told ITV Daybreak that she is negotiating a plea in the hope she will be sentenced to less than seven years in jail, which would allow her to be transferred to the UK to serve her time.

Her mother, Debbie Reid, said she speaks to her daughter every second day over the phone for 10 minutes.

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

She added: "The conditions in the prison are quite basic, everything has to be paid for from toilet rolls to water so I think she is coming to realise she just wants to get home as quick as possible and this is the route she has to take to do that.

"We are a strong family, we stick together and in times like this - we have never come across anything like this before.

"We are just being strong for each other and obviously for Melissa, we have to be strong for her, which we are being."

Reid and McCollum are being held in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital Lima.

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.

Mr Reid said the plan is to work with the Foreign Office and other agencies to fast-track his daughter's return to Scotland.

The Daily Mirror reported that both women could be back in the UK as soon as Christmas as part of plea deals struck with the Peruvian authorities.

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