Tuesday 23 December 2014

Michaella's family arrive in Peru as new CCTV footage emerges

Michaella's brother Keith visits 20-year-old in custody

Aishling Phelan

Published 19/08/2013 | 13:18

THE family of Michaella McCollum Connolly have arrived in Peru as prosecutors study new CCTV footage to establish whether it shows the Irish model carrying 11kg of cocaine to her hotel prior to her arrest.

Today, Michaella was reunited with her brother Keith who visited her in custody.

Keith accompanied his sister's solicitor Peter Madden, to Police HQ in Lima where Michaella has been held in custody since her arrest more than two weeks ago.

The siblings enjoyed a tearful reunion away from the cameras.

Her brother's arrival to Peru comes as prosecutors examine new CCTV footage which could relate to the case.

Footage of a woman wearing a long black skirt with splits up the sides, similar to the one Michaella was wearing when she was arrested, is being scruitinised according to a source from Lima airport’s anti-narcotics unit.

Keith McCollum Connolly brother of Michaella McCollum Connolly, one of two British women being held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling cocaine out of the country, arrives to the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru, in Lima, August 19, 2013.  REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Keith McCollum Connolly brother of Michaella McCollum Connolly, one of two British women being held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling cocaine out of the country, arrives to the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru, in Lima, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Lawyer Peter Madden (L), who is representing twenty-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, one of two British women being held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling cocaine out of the country, and her brother Keith arrive to the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru, in Lima, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Lawyer Peter Madden (C), who is representing twenty-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, one of two British women being held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling cocaine out of the country, arrives to the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru, in Lima, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Lawyer Peter Madden, who is representing twenty-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, one of two British women being held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling cocaine out of the country, enters to the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru, in Lima, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

The dark-haired woman in the video was seen on camera in the Peruvian capital on August 5th at midday, the same time the model and her co-accused Melissa Reid told police they were forced to collect the drugs. 

Investigators are now trying to determine whether there are discrepancies between the recorded video footage and the details given by Michaella and her co-accused Melissa Reid in their first police interview last week.

The footage comes amid reports questioning whether Michaella was abducted.

Speaking outside police HQ today, her solicitor Peter Madden said he spoke to his client about the reports and she had denied the claims made in them.

In the CCTV footage being examined by the Peruvian prosecutors, a girl, with her dark hair tied up, is seen walking back from a pizza parlour with a large bag.

The street camera follows her for several minutes and over 50 hours of footage recorded by a camera outside the three-star Colonial San Agustin hotel where the Michaella and Melissa were staying have been handed over to police.

Both girls said they received a call on a Blackberry phone given to them by the men that kidnapped them in Ibiza.

They said Michaella had met a man outside a pizzeria about 150 metres from the hotel.

She later told investigators that he had given her a bag and ordered her to bring it back to the hotel.

The video shows a woman walking quickly along the pavement, across a pedestrian crossing and towards a hotel in which Ms Connolly was staying.

Ms McCollum Connolly from Dungannon, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland and Ms Reid, 20, from Glasgow are being held on drug trafficking allegations.

A dealer allegedly forced the Irish model to smuggle the drugs in order to pay off a €4,000 debt, according to her former friends and colleagues.

She faces spending up to eight years in one of the world's toughest prison regimes following her arrest earlier this month.

The pair were arrested last week while trying to board a flight from Lima to Madrid. Police said they found around 11 kilos of cocaine hidden inside food packages in their luggage.

Both women deny the allegations and claim they were forced to carry the bags by armed men.

Both women had travelled separately to the party island of Ibiza in search of work this summer.

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