Friday 26 December 2014

Shy, fun-loving Michaella is innocent, says boyfriend

James Carvey

Published 29/09/2013 | 05:00

LAID-BACK COUPLE: Brad and Michaella chilling out in Ibiza during the summer

Brad Houston, the man who had a romance with Michaella McCollum Connolly in Ibiza this summer, broke his silence about her for the first time last night on RTE's The Saturday Night Show.

He told Brendan O'Connor that although he and Michaella partied together in Ibiza, she never took any drugs. He said drugs were prevalent on the party island but Michaella stayed away from that aspect of life there.

"You get offered drugs all the time in Ibiza," she said on the show, "but none of us did them. If I'd thought she was involved with dangerous people I wouldn't have spent any time with her."

He also said that contrary to reports that she was in financial difficulties, she had no money worries. Her job in Ibiza was in a top bar, he said. "It's big money there – it even costs €60 or €70 to get in the door," he added.

Michaella spoke about her finances to Brad and said her rent was paid for the summer, so any money she made from her job as a club hostess was disposable income.

"She prided herself on being a strong independent Irishwoman," Brad recalled. "There didn't seem to be any financial problems at all."

Brad also revealed he met several of Michaella's friends in Ibiza – but not only did he not meet Melissa Reid, the young Scot who was tried in Peru with Michaella, she was never even mentioned.

"No, the name Melissa never came up. I met Michaella's friends in Ibiza – but I never heard of this girl."

He maintains that he is certain Michaella is innocent and questioned why anyone would disappear without telling their family if they were going on a drug haul.

"The last thing you'd want if you were planning on smuggling €1.5m of cocaine would to be reported as a missing person. That'd would only bring you to the attention of the police.

"She would have had a cover story, would have updated her Facebook profile or told her family that she was out of phone coverage – she would never have let herself be reported as missing."

Despite being contacted for comments over the last six weeks he chose not to speak to the media until now. Brad said the reason he decided to break that silence was because he didn't like how Michaella was being portrayed by the media and on social media sites.

"Originally I was in quite a bit of shock when it was first reported, I was reading about the case every day. And I realised that I can't change the court decision in Peru – but I could try and change peoples' opinion of Michaella."

He appealed to people to remember that she is someone's daughter and sister and not to write her off as guilty so easily.

Brad and Michaella met in July of this year on the party island, a few short weeks before Michaella disappeared and then turned up in custody in Peru. Brad spoke about how they first met in a local bar where she was alone and reading a book. They immediately hit it off and he spent the rest of his holiday with Michaella. "We connected really well out there."

They kept in touch after he left and planned to keep seeing each other. They had been due to meet up in London on September 2 for a wedding.

Speaking to Brendan O'Connor, Brad described Michaella as a shy young woman who was independent and fun-loving. She had been open and honest about her life during the long talks in Ibiza and subsequently over emails. She had never mentioned any impending trip and never seemed to be involved with unsavoury characters.

Brad said he wants to see Michaella again should she come back to prison in the UK and also is in the process of sending her a care package to the prison in Peru.

Michaella's and Melissa Reid's guilty pleas were rejected last week. As the women only claimed partial guilt for their actions, the pleas could not be accepted, the prosecution said.

Sunday Independent

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