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Drugs mule Michaella McCollum speaks out after leaving Peru prison

Published 03/04/2016

Michaella McCollum during her exclusive first interview with the Irish broadcaster RTE (RTE/PA)
Michaella McCollum during her exclusive first interview with the Irish broadcaster RTE (RTE/PA)
Michaella McCollum during her first interview release from prison in Peru
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits
Michaella McCollum after her arrest
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Michaella and Melissa caught on CCTV loading bags into a car in Peru
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Melissa Reid
Michaella McCollum and ex-boyfriend Dwayne Mullan
Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum
PARTY SCENE: Michaella in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of the Ibiza clubs where she worked as a dancer
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)
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
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event

A drugs mule released from prison in Peru has insisted she is a good person who made a bad decision in a moment of madness.

Michaella McCollum, from Northern Ireland, was freed on parole on Thursday after serving more than two years in South American jails.

Michaella McCollum during her first interview release from prison in Peru
Michaella McCollum during her first interview release from prison in Peru
Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum
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)
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
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event

McCollum and Melissa Reid, from Scotland, were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million from Peru to Spain.

In her first interview since being released, the Co Tyrone woman said: "I've forgotten the things that everybody takes for granted in life.

"Seeing the sun, seeing the darkness, seeing the moon and the stars, things I haven't seen in almost three years."

McCollum was freed under new legislation on early prison release introduced in Peru last year.

She had served two years and three months.

It is anticipated she will have to remain in Peru for a considerable period as part of her parole conditions.

Reid remains in prison in Peru.

She has been seeking to serve the remainder of her sentence closer to home in Scotland.

Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of the Ibiza clubs where she worked as a dancer
PARTY SCENE: Michaella in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum after her arrest
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Michaella and Melissa caught on CCTV loading bags into a car in Peru
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Melissa Reid
Michaella McCollum and ex-boyfriend Dwayne Mullan
Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum
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)
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
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event

McCollum has been interviewed in Peru for a documentary that will be aired on RTE One on Sunday night.

In it, she acknowledged the potentially devastating consequences if she had successfully smuggled the drugs back to Europe.

"I probably would have had a lot of blood on my hands," she said.

"I potentially could have filled Europe full of a lot of drugs.

"I could have potentially killed a lot of people, not directly but I could have caused a lot of harm to people."

She added: "I made a decision in a moment of madness. I'm not a bad person. I want to demonstrate that I'm a good person."

McCollum, from Dungannon, and Reid, from Glasgow, were caught with the haul at Lima airport on August 6 2013 attempting to fly to Spain.

They had claimed they were forced into carrying the drugs but pleaded guilty to charges later that year.

The pair were caught trying to board a flight with 24lb (11kg) of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage.

McCollum and Reid faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year prison term but struck a behind-closed-doors plea bargain to secure a shorter sentence.

The pair had previously been held at Lima's Virgen de Fatima prison but were moved to the Ancon 2 prison, where McCollum was reportedly crammed into a cell with 30 other prisoners with poor sanitation and toilet facilities.

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