Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Drug mule Michaella McCollum earned £200 a week in jail and had own phone and cleaner

Drug smuggler gives first interviews since return to Dungannon

By Laura Abernethy

Published 22/08/2016

Convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum on television after her release from a Peruvian jail
Convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum on television after her release from a Peruvian jail
Michaella McCollum
Convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum leaving her Dungannon home

Drug smuggler Michaella McCollum has revealed details of her life in prison for the first time, after she arrived back in Northern Ireland last week.

The 23-year-old told Sunday newspapers that she was earning up to £200 a week giving beauty treatments to other prisoners.

The Co Tyrone woman was initially placed in the Virgen de Fatima prison with Scot Melissa Reid after they were caught with 24lb of cocaine worth £1.5m at Lima's international airport.

She told the Sunday Mirror that conditions there were awful - with cockroaches crawling from the bunk beds and maggots in the food.

She added that the general co-ordinator "took against" her and Reid as they "were the only white girls".

But after 10 months, they were moved to the infamous Ancon 2 prison.

She was forced to sleep on a concrete shelf in a mosquito-filled room that she shared with eight other people and use an overflowing hole in the floor for a toilet.

But McCollum said she was able to rise to the top of the prison pecking order in just six months.

Her family sent her money and she was able to buy a massage table, hair straighteners and a hairdryer.

She charged about 25 Peruvian Sol (about £5) for a blow dry, 120 for highlights, 15 for nails and 20 for a cut."

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

She used the money earned to pay another prisoner to clean her cell and to pay prison officers to turn a blind eye when she got a mobile phone to call her family at home in Dungannon.

As well as running her business, she used her time in prison to learn Spanish, do yoga and take part in dance competitions, according to the Mail on Sunday.

She told the Sunday Mirror: "I take complete responsibility for what happened, but I made the most of my time inside.

"You could cry and mope or try to do something with the time and have what fun you could."

She said she now plans to start a course in psychology and sociology, but wants to make sure that her time in prison serves to prevents other from following the same path.

"What I went through was completely my fault - and I lost three years of my life. You get an adrenaline high because you know you are doing something you know you shouldn't be doing. No-one put a gun to my head.

"Now I have to prove to the people I love that I'm responsible and that I'm sorry for what I put them through. I hope it makes people think twice about doing anything as stupid", she told the Sunday Mirror.

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph