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Drugs mule Michaella McCollum now jail beautician in her fight to get parole

By Cate McCurry

Published 08/06/2015

Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of the Ibiza clubs where she worked as a dancer
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of the Ibiza clubs where she worked as a dancer
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England, pictured in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
First television interview of Michaella McCollum Connolly after being released on parole from a Peruvian prison
Michaella McCollum Connolly, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing, in Lima, Peru (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Michaella McCollum Connolly, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing in Lima, Peru, clutching the book 'Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten principles for spiritual and emotional fulfillment' (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives to court for her sentencing in Callao, Peru (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum, both handcuffed, arrive for a court hearing in Lima, Peru (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Michaella McCollum Connolly, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing, in Lima, Peru (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Michaella McCollum, left, and Melissa Reid listen to a translator during their hearing at court in Callao, Peru (AP)
Police escort Melissa Reid, front, and Michaella McCollum to a hearing in Lima, Peru (AP)
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid from the National Police anti-drug headquarters in Peru (AP)
Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and friend Melissa Reid in the airport after they were arrested
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event
Santa Monica female prison in Peru
SECRET STASH: The drugs found in food packs in the girls’ luggage
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Michaella and Melissa caught on CCTV loading bags into a car in Peru
Michaella McCollum, centre, and Melissa Reid leave the court after being sentenced in Peru.
Lawyer Peter Madden, who represents Michaella McCollum, has claimed his client has suffered from a lack of food.
Belfast solicitor Peter Madden said Michaella McCollum and co-accused Melissa Reid have been well treated by the authorities
Michaella McCollum, right, and Melissa Reid, left, were jailed in Peru last year after they admitted trying to smuggle cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds from Peru to Spain (AP)
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club

Drugs mule Michaella McCollum has become a behind-bars beauty therapist in bid to get early parole from her Peruvian jail cell.

The Tyrone woman and accomplice Melissa Reid secured the coveted posts working on inmates' hair and nails in a salon in the notorious Ancon 2 jail.

The pair were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after they admitted trying to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine from Peru to Spain.

It is thought that the new positions will help their case if they are to apply for parole.

According to another former inmate, Belfast woman Lillian Allen, getting a job in jail significantly increases your chances of being considered for parole.

The 49-year-old grandmother, who was freed after three years in the South American prison, said that getting a job in the hair salon is considered "one of the top jobs".

The Shankill Road woman, who was banned from leaving the country until 2018, fled after she feared for her life.

She served three years of an eight-year sentence for smuggling cocaine in 2011.

Describing how she made jewellery and how McCollum and Glaswegian Reid started working by sewing purses and wallets, she added they showed "little interest" in harder work.

"You quickly learn the best way out of that hell is to get parole. And you only get that if you show an appetite to work," the mother-of-three told the Daily Mirror.

The drug mules waited until two salon workers were released from prison before they landed the coveted jobs.

Ms Allen continued: "Peru is the most corrupt country I've ever been to. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I got out as soon as I could.

"Michaella and Melissa were well behaved and kept their heads down. I pray the girls will make it back but I can't see it being anytime soon.

"There are eight women in a cell with a hole in the ground for the toilet," she said. "The only thing that takes your mind off it is work."

She believes early parole is the best that Dungannon woman McCollum and Reid can hope for as their chances of being transferred to a Northern Irish and Scottish prison could be dashed.

In a previous interview with the Sunday Life, Allen described how she escaped Peru by bribing airport police and is now living in England.

In January this year, McCollum's repatriation to a Northern Ireland jail was given the go-ahead by the head of the prison service in Belfast.

All the necessary paperwork was sent to the Peruvian authorities considering the application for transfer, according to a letter sent by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).

However, the Peruvian ministry of justice has not officially confirmed she can return home to serve the remainder of her sentence.

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