Former drugs mule Michaella McCollum fined for speeding on R-plates
Michaella McCollum has been fined after she was caught driving at almost twice the speed limit while on R-plates.
The 25-year-old former drug smuggler - who served more than two years in a Peru jail after being caught with cocaine in her luggage at Lima airport in August 2013 - appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court yesterday.
McCollum, with an address given as Cloneen in the Co Tyrone town, sat quietly while her barrister explained what led to the offence.
The court heard police were monitoring vehicle speeds on March 23 at the A4 Annaghilla Road, Ballygawley, which is limited to 60mph.
Their attention was drawn to a Suzuki Vitara which registered a speed of 84mph - 39 over the limit set for R-plate drivers.
The excess was too high to be dealt with by a Fixed Penalty Notice, and was required to be reported to court for prosecution.
On being spoken to at the scene, McCollum claimed: "I panicked. I felt I had to speed up to overtake."
Her barrister said the acceptance of speeding was immediate and no time has been wasted, adding: "There is no history of driving offending and no previous of relevance."
He continued: "This was a well-known part of road and my client accepts she had no business being in the outside lane as a restricted driver. She didn't realise the road was coming to an end."
McCollum was said to have passed her driving test last July, with the purpose of assisting her mother and to "ease the burden" of travel. It was also contended as the mother herself of one-year-old twins, McCollum required a licence to attend to their needs.
In addition, the defence disclosed McCollum has been offered a place with Queen's University to study international business and economics, but this is dependent on her passing a mathematics exam for which she is currently studying in Belfast, requiring a regular commute.
District Judge John Meehan imposed a fine of £150 with four penalty points.
But as McCollum only had part of her licence to surrender to court for endorsement, Judge Meehan ordered it to be suspended until presented in full.