Irish News

Monday 28 July 2014

Sister of convicted drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly: 'I will never judge her but I still can't handle it'

Denise Calnan

Published 07/07/2014|13:38

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Sister Samantha said the events of last summer still upset her and she finds it hard to ‘handle it’.
Norah McCollum
Samantha McCollum

The sister of convicted Irish drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly has said she will never judge her sister’s actions, but is still finding it difficult coming to terms with what happened.

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Samantha said the events of last summer still upset her and she finds it hard to ‘handle it’.

“I will never judge her,” Samantha said as she makes an emotional first prison visit to Michaella in a new television documentary which airs tonight.

“Still now when people say to me ‘Your sister’s in jail’, I have to go, ‘Yeah, my sister is in jail’. It hasn’t hit us yet.

“It still upsets me. I can’t handle it, I still can’t handle it.”

In December the “The Peru two”, Michaella and Scottish woman Melissa Reid admitted to smuggling cocaine worth €1.9m and they were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

Police believe the two women were paid €5,000 each for smuggling the drugs.

Melissa and Michaella are currently both serving their sentences in Peru.

Samantha, who joins her mother Norah in a visit to the infamous Virgen de Fatima Peruvian prison, said her sister enjoyed modelling and had dreams of being famous. She also said Michaella was looking forward to her first trip on a plane to the party island of Ibiza for the summer.

“Don’t we all want to be famous,” she said, “but famous for the good reasons.

“In a matter of three weeks [Michaella] got the passport, the tickets, she was going to Ibiza. 

“She was enjoying it – everytime I spoke to her she was having a great time.

“ he was constantly in contact on Facebook and on Skype. She was having an absolute ball,” she continued.

“Then she literally just vanished.

“Nobody could tell us where she was or who she was with. She just disappeared."

The family erupt into tears at the Virgen de Fatima jailhouse when they are reunited for the first time on the RTE documentary, ‘Michaella, Peru & The Drugs Run’.

“She knows we’re suffering even though she’s locked up in there. We’re all suffering. Her whole family is suffering,” her devastated mother Norah said.

 “It was very emotional. We just hugged each other and cried.”

“I never thought in a thousand years I would even know someone in a situation like this, never mind my own child.”

“There was a lot of crying at the start, lots of hugging and crying.”

Norah and Samantha hadn’t seen Michaella since she left her Dungannon home eight months previously for a holiday in Ibiza.

Norah admitted that she had been worried about her daughter going to Ibiza in the first place.

“When young people go abroad you never know what will happen them, how they end up, what happens them or what company they keep.

“I was worried about her going to Ibiza but I never thought anything like this would happen.”

• Michaella, Peru & The Drugs Run is being broadcast on RTE One tomorrow at 9.35pm.

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