Tuesday 25 October 2016

Gerry O'Carroll: The infamous RTE interview was all bravado, Michaella is just a vile criminal

Gerry O'Carroll

Published 24/08/2016 | 08:45

Michaella McCollum arrives back in Ireland.
Michaella McCollum arrives back in Ireland.
Michaella McCollum in Dublin Airport. Picture: Sean Defoe

In August 2013 two young women were arrested by police in Peru as they prepared to board a flight to Spain.

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Irishwoman Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid from Scotland were caught red-handed with €1.8m worth of cocaine hidden in food products.

The two drug smugglers had been posing as tourists.

They told police a cock-and-bull story that they had been kidnapped by gangsters and forced to act as drug mules.

However, they soon changed their tune when they were warned by police that if they didn’t cooperate they would be facing 15 years in Peru’s notorious prison system.

In custody, both women confessed to their crimes and admitted that they had not been coerced, but had become drug smugglers for money.

Michaella McCollum in Dublin Airport. Picture: Sean Defoe
Michaella McCollum in Dublin Airport. Picture: Sean Defoe

Both women subsequently pleaded guilty and were sentenced to six years and eight months each.

The two women had by then been dubbed The Peru Two by the media.

Michaella McCollum
Michaella McCollum

On March 31, Michaella was released on probation and ordered to remain in Peru.

Melissa Reid was deported to Scotland.

Michaella McCollum arriving for a court hearing in Lima Photo: AP Photo/Karel Navarro
Michaella McCollum arriving for a court hearing in Lima Photo: AP Photo/Karel Navarro

Shortly after her release Michaella gave her first interview, which was aired by RTE. It was widely criticised by many viewers here as being too soft.

What really surprised many people, including myself, was the extraordinary transformation of Michaella from the frightened young girl with the ridiculous hair bun to the self-assured and sophisticated young woman.

During that interview she appeared contrite and remorseful and admitted the gravity of her crimes.

She admitted that “she could have killed someone and caused a lot of harm to people”.

She went on to say she made a decision in a moment of madness and she was not a bad person and she now wanted to demonstrate that she was a good person.

Since Michaella arrived back to these shores early last week all she has demonstrated is that the remorse, regret and shame she confessed to in that RTE interview were self-serving, dishonest and insincere.

In a recent interview it is very obvious that she has not grasped the enormity of her crime.

When she arrived back home to her native Tyrone last week, instead of keeping a low profile she was greeted with a big slap-up party and treated like a returning heroine.

In a newspaper interview she boasted of being top dog in the prison. She spoke of her birthday parties paid for by the €250 a week she made giving beauty treatments to other inmates.

She boasted of paying an inmate a pittance to clean her filthy cell.

She talked about bribing a guard with €90 to smuggle a mobile phone into her.

She also claimed that she had 500 love letters and that a prison psychologist became besotted with her and when she spurned his advances he threatened her chances of an early release.

It is now obvious that Michaella is revelling in her criminal escapades and determined to cash in.

It has somehow escaped her that despite her so-called “fame” she is nothing more that a reviled drug smuggler.

It is drug dealers like her and Reid who have wreaked havoc, untold misery, death and destruction on society.

If she possesses any moral conscience whatsoever, she must realise that any money she makes on the back of her crimes is tainted blood money.

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