Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Peru drug mules: Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid sentenced to six years eight months in jail

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru 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 arrives for her sentencing at a court 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
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event
Santa Monica female prison in Peru
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England, pictured in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England, pictured in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England, pictured in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Belfast girl Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Jorge Chávez International Airport
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits

Peru drug mules Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have been handed down a sentence of six years and eight months at a court in Peru this afternoon.

The pair had faced a potential jail terms of 15 years after hopes of a plea deal faltered.

Dungannon woman Michaella and Melissa, from Glasgow, had agreed to plead guilty to smuggling £1.5m of cocaine with the prospect of reduced sentencing to six years and eight months.

The verdicts were handed down in a closed court today.

According to their lawyer they have received the minimum sentencing.

The pair were sentenced by Judge Pedro Miguel Puente Bardales in what was described as a "brief process". Judicial spokesman Daniel Vega said: "The women were very calm as the sentence was handed down at the court in the Sarita Colonia prison.

"They will now begin serving their sentence in the Santa Monica prison.

"It is still not clear whether they will be able to serve part of their sentence in the UK - the judge said that was not a decision for the court and they would have to reach an agreement with the prosecution."

The women were stopped at Lima airport in August on their way to Spain carrying 24 pounds of cocaine concealed inside food packets.

They reportedly 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.

Michaella was snapped on her way into court this afternoon, pictured holding a self-help book entitled 'Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know'.

Earlier this month hopes of more lenient sentences had been fading as the pair faced potential jail terms of 15 years.

Scot Melissa is said to have handed a diary to a newspaper in which she claims she and Michaella were kept in the back of a prison van in intolerable heat for a day without food, water or access to a toilet.

Melissa's diary records: "I have prepared myself for the worst... I think of how I will be in 15 years... and yes it does still scare me.

"I would really like to have this over with by Christmas because the fear of the unknown makes me more anxious. I've been waiting four months already and the delays and changes are annoying.

"'All this time the idea was I would be sentenced to six years eight months but then serve a third of that if I worked or studied [in prison] – so roughly two years three months – but now I will have to serve the full sentence."

The diary also reveals Melissa is afraid she will be separated from Michaella.

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 reportedly 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.

Follow the latest updates from our reporter in Peru, as well as local comment, right here:

View the story "Live: Sentencing of drug mules Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid in Peru" on Storify

 

 

Peru drug mules: Michaella McCollum Connolly prosecutors block reduced sentences 

Unlikely traffickers claim they're victims... but now the hard part is proving it

How Peru became the cocaine capital of the world

Michaella's mum: It's like a nightmare  

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