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Friday 22 September 2017

Michaella may admit charges to get a shorter jail sentence

Michaella: awaiting trial
Michaella: awaiting trial

Victoria O'Hara and Cormac McQuinn

ALLEGED drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly may be preparing to plead guilty to attempting to carry €1.7m worth of cocaine out of Peru.

The 20-year-old from Dungannon, and Melissa Reid, from Scotland, could face 25 years in a Peruvian jail if found guilty.

In an interview at the weekend, Melissa said she did not want to be jailed until she was 35 and was prepared to plead guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence.

Both are being held at the Lima prison's assessment centre while they await trial.

Michaella's lawyer, Peter Madden said: "Melissa Reid's family have urged her to plead guilty and Michaella is aware of the options available to her."

Speaking to the 'Mail on Sunday', Melissa described Monaghan-born Michaella as "like a sister" to her and that they "keep each other going".

She said despite possibly pleading guilty she insisted she only carried the drugs "under duress".

A deal could cut her sentence from 25 years to six years and eight months, and she may serve just half of that.

"After a lot of thought and advice from my lawyer I am going to go in front of the judge and admit I was in possession of the drugs and that I went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain – I am willing to plead guilty to that," Melissa said.

"I did it under duress, I still maintain that," she said.

Around 11kg of cocaine-was found hidden in food packets in the luggage owned by the two women as they were trying to board a flight to Spain last month. The pair claim an armed gang threatened them and their family.

Melissa's father William believes they should plead guilty to get the legal process over with quickly.

"We are considering this as good a result as we could have hoped for.

"It seems strange to be happy about the prospect of your 20-year-old daughter being sentenced to six years and eight months in jail, but we are delighted. Crucially, we could start pushing for her to be transferred to Scotland."

Irish Independent

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