Sunday 28 December 2014

One Direction manager in prison visit to Peru drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly

Amanda Ferguson

Published 05/05/2014 | 07:14

Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao... REUTERS/Mariana Bazo (PERU - Tags: CRIME LAW DRUGS SOCIETY)...I
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao December 17, 2013
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly

Drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly has received chocolate eggs and fried chicken when a surprise guest visited her in prison in Peru.

The Dungannon woman and her Scottish friend Melissa Reid were gifted Easter eggs and a KFC takeway during a visit from One Direction's tour manager.

Irishman Paul Higgins brought the two 20-year-olds the gifts during a "charity" jail visit, when the globally famous boyband were performing in Lima as part of their tour of Latin America.

Free gig tickets were also handed out to prisoners' families by Higgins and he talked to the incarcerated pair about dealing with the pressures of 'fame'. In December, McCollum Connolly and Reid were each jailed for six years and eight months after they attempted to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru in their suitcases.

Of Higgins' visit to Virgine de Fatima prison, a source close to the band said: "Paul does a lot of work for charity that you just don't hear about.

"He was in Peru with One Direction and during his downtime he decided that the Christian thing to do would be to visit an Irish person who was in prison."

BEST FRIENDS: Despite not knowing each other before their ordeal, Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid have become pals in prison, giving each other vital support.
Despite not knowing each other before their ordeal, Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid became pals in prison, giving each other vital support
Melissa Reid (L), cuffed, is escorted from a truck to court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao, October 1, 2013.
Michaella McCollum Connolly, left, and Melissa Reid are escorted from a prison truck by police at Sarita Colonia prison in Lima, Peru
Michaella McCollum Connolly, left, with Melissa Reid, centre, on their way to court in Lima last week
Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, is escorted from a truck to court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao, October 1, 2013.
Santa Monica women's prison in Lima, Photo: Getty Images

Higgins was said to be keen to boost McCollum Connolly's spirits as she continues to attempt to adjust to life behind bars.

"He felt that seeing a friendly face would give her a lift," the source told the Mail on Sunday.

"He does not know her [Michaella] or the family and he did not tell any of One Direction that he was going.

"He was just trying to do a good deed as he felt that there wouldn't be many visitors coming from Ireland to see them.

"He is not there to judge them for what they did nor does he condone anything they have done."

Billy Reid, father of Melissa, who is from Lenzie, near Glasgow, said he was pleased Higgins had made the visit and shared his knowledge of coping with intense media pressure.

"It's great of him to do that and take time out of his busy schedule to visit them," Mr Reid said.

"I think it will have helped the girls to hear about how One Direction cope with fame because since everything has happened they've been pushed into the spotlight ... but obviously for different reasons."

Belfast Telegraph

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