Belfast Telegraph

Michaella to work as missionary during her parole period in Peru

By Laura Larkin

Drugs mule Michaella McCollum will spend her parole period in Peru in a homely apartment that also houses an Irish-American archbishop and his wife.

The fifth-floor apartment in Lima is home to Archbishop Sean Walsh, who has been assisting the drug smuggler since she was in prison.

The Catholic priest has stepped up to help her meet the terms of her parole.

"It was an easy decision to offer my place and the job to her," he said.

"I knew she needed to have a formal offer of employment which I made, and an address to live at, which I was also able to give her." As part of her parole conditions, the Tyrone woman will need to work during her four years in the south American country, where she was convicted in 2013 for attempting to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine into Europe.

She will now work as a lay missionary alongside the priest both in an office in the apartment and in the Eastern Lima Catholic Church.

Her new home is based in the trendy Milaflores district in the city and is within walking distance of a number of amenities which she will be able to enjoy after more than two years behind bars.

During her imprisonment she was forced to share a cell with 30 criminals but in her new flat Michaella will have her own room and bathroom.

"While it's not a very big apartment, we do have a lot of room and will be able to offer Michaella her own space and a comfortable place to live," Archbishop Walsh told the Sunday Life.

"We are looking forward to working with her and having her stay with us at home."

The bishop, who has grown-up children, said that he is looking forward to working alongside the criminal, who he says has turned her life around.

"My wife and I are treating her like one of the family," he said. McCollum is already enjoying her freedom and has been snapped taking selfies in a coffee shop which she visited with her mum over the weekend.

The conditions of her newly-granted parole dictate that the 23-year-old must stay in the country for the remainder of her six-year and eight-month sentence - of which she has served less than half in jail.

Scottish woman Melissa Reid remains locked up in Peru for her part in the smuggling operation.

Belfast Telegraph


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