Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Peru pair telling same story, police statements reveal

Published 26/08/2013|04:00

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Michaella McCollum Connolly

INDIVIDUAL police statements given by alleged drug smugglers Michaella McCollum Connolly (pictured) and Melissa Reid have emerged showing the two women telling almost identical stories.

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The accounts include the dramatic moments the pair, who are about to begin their first full week in a tough Peruvian jail, were held at gunpoint.

Michaella, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Scotswoman Melissa have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to smuggle a large amount of cocaine out of the country and have been refused bail.

The 20-year-olds claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who warned that if they did not co-operate their family members would be targeted.

But doubts over their story arose as Melissa Reid's father, William Reid, told a newspaper that he wants his daughter to come clean and plead guilty.

He said: "These girls are young. They may be living in cloud cuckoo land and thinking that magically next week they're going to go free.

INNOCENT

"If you're adamant that you're innocent, you don't believe that you're even going to be given a sentence.

"As I sit there tonight, I'm still not 100pc about their story, but two girls who prior to Ibiza did not know each other, are telling a very similar story.

"They have been pretty consistent all along. Only those two girls know the truth."

It was a poignant weekend for the Reid family as their daughter Melissa spent her 20th birthday behind bars. The young woman sent an emotional letter to her family saying that this was one birthday she wanted to "forget ASAP".

In the moving letter, she also made reference to Michaella, who she described as "a sister for life".

By Claire Williamson

Irish Independent

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