Michaella is innocent, says family

Published Wednesday, 18 December 2013
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The family of Michaella McCollum, the Dungannon woman convicted of drugs smuggling in Peru, has said their daughter is innocent.

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The 20-year-old was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail for attempting to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine out of the South American country along with Scottish girl Melissa Reid.

The pair, nicknamed the Peru Two, were found with 11kg of the Class A drug as they attempted to board a flight to Spain in Lima airport.

Both said they were aware of their illicit cargo, however, they claimed they were forced to transport the drugs at gunpoint by a criminal gang.

Despite protesting their innocence the women pleaded guilty in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.

Following Tuesday's sentencing, Michaella's mother and sister said they believed she had not committed any crime and would bid to have her serve her sentence in a UK jail.

"In our opinion she is innocent, in our opinion she will always be innocent," Michaella's sister Samantha told Daybreak.

She said the family's legal team would be working to get her sister home to serve her sentence in the UK.

Michaella has never been in trouble before so this is a very big shock to us and we will all support her.

Michaella’s sister Samantha

She added: "It will be a long legal process, we will be getting Michaella home as soon as possible, so she will be back home soon."

McCollum's mother Nora, who described her daughter as an "honest, hard-working girl", said she was "optimistic" after hearing the length of sentence.

"It was the best possible outcome they could have got," she said.

"It was the shortest sentence she could have had, so I am happy with it."

The heartbroken mother said her daughter had phoned home at least once a day during her four-month long period in custody while she awaited her fate.

She said Michaella, who had been working in Ibiza before being caught with the drugs in Peru, was coping "really, really well" with life inside the country's notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima.

Samantha added: "Her faith has kept her going, she is very positive and optimistic, knowing this is going to bring her out very strong.

"She has got great support at home, she has nine other siblings at home, she is the baby of the family. We just want her home."

Peru, the UN has said, is the world's number one producer of the coca leaf which is the raw material used in cocaine production.

It's believed around 90% of the country's foreign prisoners are being held on drug trafficking offences.

© UTV News
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81 Comments
Thomas in Co Antrim wrote (119 days ago):
Its likely these girls were coerced into smuggling drugs by criminals so the lenient sentence is appropriate. It was cocaine at the end of the day, a party drug for the rich and famous, as we have seen from recent news in London (!) so not the worst crime in the world. I hope they have learnt their lesson and will get through their ordeal unscathed and get back home to their families in due course.
Charlie in Belfast United Kingdom wrote (119 days ago):
Irish passport, Irish jail . Simple No British tax payer out of pocket Charlie
Ray in Belfast wrote (119 days ago):
Its a wonder they have,nt claimed it was prescription drugs, they were young stupid and devious and caught red handed with their evil cargo and deserve a prison sentence in Peru. Just think of the countless lives that have been saved by them getting caught and not forgetting the many families who have been spared the heartbreak of having to cope with a drugs addicted Son or Daughter and the life destroying consequences. Serve the time in Peru and let it be a sharp shock lesson in life.and also avoid the taxpayer in this country having to keep you
kieran D in Newtownabbey wrote (119 days ago):
I have doubt about her being innocent, but if the harshness of the posters on here reflect our society we live in one which lacks forgiveness and compassion. There are obviously consequences when drugs are successfully smuggled but I doubt this young lady had a deep enough understanding of them. She made a mistake and was unfortunate that it was a big one. It's interesting that so many postets focus on her Irish passport.....the biterness always finds a way into forums in this part of the world.
des in derry wrote (120 days ago):
does not take long for anti-irish comments to appear. She is from Monaghan originally so has an Irish passport.
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