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Family relief as Michaella's partner in crime is released

By Hilary Duncanson

Published 16/05/2016

Melissa Reid (right) with Michaella McCollum in Peru 2013
Melissa Reid (right) with Michaella McCollum in Peru 2013

The father of convicted drugs mule Melissa Reid has spoken of the family's relief and delight after authorities agreed to release her from jail in Peru and expel her from the country.

Reid was jailed alongside Michaella McCollum from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5m from Peru to Spain.

Billy Reid said his "prayers had been answered" following the court ruling.

He expressed his belief that his 22-year-old daughter could become an asset and a credit to her family when she returns to the UK.

McCollum (23) was freed in March under new legislation on early prison release introduced in Peru last year after serving two years and three months.

Shortly afterwards she gave a controversial soft-focus interview to RTE in which she insisted she was "not a bad person" and that she had acted in a moment of madness.

Peruvian authorities agreed to release Reid, from Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, after a court hearing on Friday.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Reid (55) said: "We are all relieved and delighted, although I don't think it has fully sunk in yet. We went to bed on Friday night unsure of what the future held for us as a family and woke to find out our prayers had been answered."

He thanked the Peruvian authorities for "allowing our daughter to come home to us" and suggested almost three years of worry had "taken its toll" on the family.

Mr Reid said his daughter wanted to prevent other people from being sucked into the situation she found herself in.

"We now hope Melissa will be able to demonstrate that she is the asset we believe she can be and not a liability," he said.

"She regrets the predicament she finds herself in, is apologetic for her actions and wants to show that she can be a credit to her family and make things right."

A magistrate ruled that she had been remorseful and shown her "intention to be reinserted back in society" at an earlier hearing.

Newspaper reports suggested the court was to inform the British embassy of the decision so arrangements could be made for her to be returned to the UK.

The Foreign Office said on Saturday it was providing assistance to Reid and remained in contact with her family and local authorities.

However, it is anticipated to be some time before the women can return home.

McCollum and Reid were caught with the haul at Lima Airport on August 6, 2013 while attempting to fly to Spain. They were caught trying to board a flight with 24lb (11kg) of cocaine in food packets hidden in their luggage.

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

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.

They 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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