Jailed Tyrone woman 'has met lawyers'

Published Monday, 12 August 2013
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The Co Tyrone woman arrested in Peru for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country is believed to have met with lawyers.

Jailed Tyrone woman 'has met lawyers'
The family of Michaella McCollum-Connolly thought she had gone missing in Ibiza. (© Facebook)

Michaella McCollum-Connolly from Dungannon was arrested last week at the check in desk of Air Europa at Lima Airport, while attempting to board a flight to Madrid.

Anti-drug officers claim they discovered almost six kilos of cocaine worth around £1.5m in her luggage and that of her friend 19-year-old Melissa Reid from Scotland.

The 20-year-old's arrest emerged as her family had launched a major online missing person campaign after she had not been heard from in 12 days. She had previously been working as a nightclub hostess in Ibiza.

Stephen Breen, from the Irish Sun newspaper, said it is believed McCollum-Connolly is now on hunger strike in prison.

"She maintains she is innocent," he said.

"Her family are very anxious that she has found herself in this nightmare situation."

The Co Tyrone woman travelled under an Irish passport, but the Irish consul-general in Lima has recently retired and has not been replaced. It is understood the British consulate has been in touch with both women.

Archbishop Sean Walsh, based in Peru, has been in touch with the British embassy and hopes to speak to the pair later.

"There about 1,500 foreign prisoners in Peru, almost all of whom have came here to traffic," he explained.

He has liaised with other British and Irish people imprisoned there.

"The women's prisons, I think, are slightly better in the sense that women prisoners tend to help each other more than male prisoners do.

"She will have an official translator, she'll be taken to court and accused."

He said that it can take a few years before defendants are sentenced if found guilty in the South American country.

"They will tell her in accordance with the (alleged) amount she was carrying, what the possible sentence might be."

It is thought she could get between six and a half years and 15 years if found guilty of drugs-trafficking.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
25 Comments
milo in limavady wrote (335 days ago):
Tyrone is in the uk not Ireland
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (346 days ago):
Laura in Newcastle wrote: "I hope the Irish government foot the bill for Michella As she stated she is Irish not British" A wee bit sectarian, is it not? but par for the course for certain sections of the Northern Irish population
Niave in Belfast wrote (346 days ago):
So these two innocent women went from Ibiza to Mallorca to Madrid to Peru! Was this a cultural visit. Nothing naive in drug smuggling. When they where in Ibiza they had a choice of going to Peru.
jean in Cookstown wrote (346 days ago):
If these girls are innocent I feel so sorry for them, but if guilty they deserve all they get. It is their families I feel sorry for.
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (347 days ago):
I just heard the British girl say she was forced to carry the packages, but she didn't know what was in them. That's quite a contradictory statement; it makes no sense at all. Somebody forced her to do it, but she didn't think there was anything wrong about it. I'm sure the police will believe that.
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