Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Peru drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly may be left alone in country as fellow inmate Melissa Reid hopes to complete sentence in UK

Michaella McCollum, left, and Melissa Reid
Michaella McCollum, left, and Melissa Reid

Northern Ireland drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly faces separation from her fellow Peru prisoner Melissa Reid, who has applied to complete her six-year sentence in the UK.

Reid's parents have confirmed they are trying to get the Government to get her moved from jail in Lima to a UK prison.

If the pair are split up, it will be a huge blow to Connolly, who is already fearful of being moved from the relatively humane Virgen de Fatima jail to a bigger Peruvian prison for sentenced prisoners.

The pair were sentenced to six years and eight months for trying to smuggling £1.5m of cocaine into Peru.

Yesterday, it emerged that the Scottish woman's parents have paid a £3,500 fine, which means she is eligible to apply for a prisoner transfer. Last week a formal request to the Foreign Office to begin the process was made.

Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, and fellow drugs mule Connolly flew from Ibiza last summer to Peru where they were caught with 11kg of cocaine.

Reid's father Billy said: "We've started the process to get Melissa transferred."

Because their sentence is less than seven years, McCollum and Reid are eligible to be transferred to a prison in the UK, where they could serve their sentences in closer proximity to their families.

However, in order for a transfer to take place, both countries must agree.

The two girls had claimed they were forced to carry the cocaine after gangsters kidnapped them at gunpoint in Ibiza. They were arrested in August trying to carry the cocaine through Lima's international airport to Spain.

Michaella has described the squalid conditions in Fatima prison, saying there are cockroaches everywhere.

She has to fork out hundreds of Peruvian soles every week to survive inside the prison, paying for everything down to a glass of water or a single sheet of toilet paper. "Anything we eat or drink, we have to buy ourselves," she told Sunday Life.

"We even have to pay for the cell to be cleaned every morning, three soles (65p). But it is still dirty. There's cockroaches everywhere.

"I would rather spend 90 years in a prison back home than spend another day here. At least you could have a TV and proper food."

BACKGROUND

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid, both 20, were stopped at Lima airport in August on their way to Spain carrying £1.5m worth of cocaine concealed inside food packets. They told authorities they were working in Ibiza before they were kidnapped and forced to travel to Majorca, then sent to Peru and forced to carry drugs in their luggage.

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