Belfast Telegraph

Michaella McCollum wanted to die on being told in prison mum had stroke

Michaella McCollum
Michaella McCollum
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum has spoken of the trauma she put her mother through, which resulted in a mini-stroke after her arrest in Peru in 2013.

The 26-year-old from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, was jailed for trying to smuggle 11kg of cocaine worth £1.5m out of Peru, along with her accomplice Melissa Reid from Scotland.

The pair, who were dubbed the Peru Two, were arrested as they tried to fly to Spain from the South American country's capital Lima in August 2013.

Both women were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison, but were freed in 2016.

An extract of her book, You'll Never See Daylight Again, which goes on sale this Thursday, was published by the Mail On Sunday and reveals the horrendous living conditions McCollum experienced while in custody. Following her initial arrest McCollum was detained in the headquarters of the narcotics division of the Peruvian National Police - Dirando - and was locked in a pitch dark cell infested with cockroaches.

"I woke up in the pitch black, shivering. As my eyes adjusted I sensed something ominous - something moving.

"I could hear them before I saw them: 40 or 50 cockroaches, each one two or three inches long, scurrying above my head and around my feet. I started screaming hysterically."

Describing the bathroom facilities at Dirando, McCollum said a hole in the ground was used as a toilet and a jug filled with water was her shower. That same jug was used for drinking water and to wash waste down the toilet hole.

Before her court appearance McCollum was told she had a visitor.

Her brother Keith had flown from Northern Ireland to Peru to support his sister but told her the news about their mother.

She says in the book extract. "'How is Mum?' I asked Keith. 'Does she hate me?' 'She's not been well', he replied. 'She had to go to hospital'. 'No! What's wrong?'

"'What's wrong?' he repeated, fixing me with his eyes. 'You're asking me that, Michaella? She's been so sick with worry that she had a mini-stroke'.

"I stared at him, processing the words. All the discomfort of the previous days meant nothing compared with the trauma I'd put my adored mum through.

"What kind of daughter was I? If I could have taken my own life there and then, I'd have done it."

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