Belfast Telegraph

Peru drugs mule Melissa Reid awaits decision on bid to return home

Drugs mule Melissa Reid could find out when she will return to the UK in the next few days as her appeal to be expelled from Peru is considered by a judge.

The 22-year-old, jailed for cocaine smuggling in 2013, has been seeking to serve the remainder of her six-year sentence closer to home.

Reid, from Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, and Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million from Peru to Spain.

After serving a third of her sentence, Reid has applied to return to Scotland under what has been referred to as an "expulsion programme".

A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Lima said on Tuesday Reid had been "granted expulsion back to the UK" and would be returning "very soon", but refused to comment further.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said "no decision" had yet been reached, with a judge still to rule on the case.

A spokeswoman said: "We continue to provide assistance to Melissa Reid and remain in contact with her family and local authorities.

"We are still waiting to hear a decision from the judge."

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said they had received no word of Reid's expulsion, adding they would only be notified if she was set to serve the remainder of her sentence in Scotland.

McCollum, 23, was freed last month under new legislation on early prison release introduced in Peru last year after serving two years and three months.

However, it is anticipated she will have to remain in Peru for a considerable period as part of her parole conditions.

McCollum and Reid were caught with the haul at Lima airport on August 6 2013 while attempting to fly to Spain.

They had claimed they were forced into carrying the drugs but pleaded guilty to charges later that year.

The pair were caught trying to board a flight with 24lb (11kg) of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage.

McCollum and Reid faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year prison term but struck a behind-closed-doors plea bargain to secure a shorter sentence.

They had previously been held at Lima's Virgen de Fatima prison but were moved to the Ancon 2 prison, where McCollum was reportedly crammed into a cell with 30 other prisoners with poor sanitation and toilet facilities.

The SPS agreed in principle to a transfer in 2014 and Reid has been awaiting approval from the Peruvian authorities, who need to consent to her serving the remainder of her sentence under Scots law.

Reid's father Billy has previously said the impact of his daughter's crime on his family had been "horrendous" and spoke out in a video warning of the consequences of drug offences abroad.

He said: ''It's horrendous to see your daughter in handcuffs and the living conditions that she has to put up with. Melissa has spent her own 20th and 21st birthdays in prison in Peru.

''She missed the significant event of her only brother's wedding. Events such as Christmas are non-existent for us.

"There'll be no celebrations in our house, there'll be no Christmas tree until we get her back home.''


From Belfast Telegraph