Irish News

Friday 25 July 2014

Michaella fund raises just €600 to pay legal fees in Peru

Published 03/09/2013|08:03

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Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly are led away in handcuffs
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly are led away in handcuffs

A FUND set up to help cover the legal costs incurred by suspected drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly has received just over €600 in donations.

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The Tyrone woman's family say they are “trying desperately to get her home” and have pleaded for financial support.

But an appeal fund set up by Michaella's sister Stephanie had attracted just over €600 by last night – far short of the €23,500 target set by the family.

Michaella's former boyfriend, British DJ Brad Houston, posted a link to the fund on his Facebook page.

According to Michaella's sister, the family are facing a massive legal bill and are in need of financial support.

“Michaella, as you all know, is in a prison in Peru. We as a family are trying desperately to get her home.

“Since this living nightmare began we have been overwhelmed with the support and kind words from people.

“Some of these people are friends and people we know, and others are from kind strangers,” Stephanie said.

“As I'm sure you all understand, to get Michaella home it may be a lengthy process by it all depends on her legal representation.

“We plan to visit Michaella as much as we can.

“So many of our supporters have asked us if they can donate to Michaella's plight. We appreciate this so much as legal fees, etc, will be expensive.

“We would just like to thank you all for your support and donation for our fight to get our Michaella home where she belongs.”

Michaella (20) is currently being detained in the notorious Virgen de Fatima Women's prison in the Peruvian capital Lima.

The Dungannon native is awaiting trial along with her co-accused, Melissa Reid (20) from Glasgow.

The two women are accused of trying to smuggle 11kg of cocaine out of Peru last month. The drugs are valued at €1.7m.

The pair are understood to have told police that they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang.

In an interview yesterday, Melissa Reid's father William called on the British and Spanish authorities to intervene in the case.

“The Peru element of the story I can follow and understand. It's the Ibiza end that I would like more clarification on. I'm still not entirely sure how she left Ibiza to go to wherever it was – Madrid or Majorca and then on – so I would like more help from the Spanish authorities and in fact the British police,” he said.

“The current prison conditions are OK and not as bad as we were led to believe prior to going over to Peru, so that was a worthwhile visit for that reason alone, to get some comfort that they have a bed and some space,” he added.

By Niall O’Connor

hnews@herald.ie

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