Saturday 25 January 2020

Drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly spending quality time with mum in Peru following prison release

Adam Cullen

Drugs mule Michaela McCollum Connolly is spending time with her mother following her release from Peruvian prison.

The 23-year-old model from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, walked free from Ancon 2 prison in Northern Lima yesterday afternoon but may have to remain in the city for four years on parole.

She is now spending quality time with her mother, Norah, who flew to Lima in anticipation of her early release.

She has also already arranged a job and accommodation.

Bishop Sean Walsh, a Lima-based priest, said Ms McCollum will volunteer with his Eastern Catholic Church in the city. And he revealed he will provide a bed for her in his own home.

"She has been granted parole to my very great surprise," he said. "She's going to be granted parole for the remainder of her sentence. I visited her several days ago. She is, of course, quite relieved and thankful to God that the course of life has gone this way. Probably, she will remain in Lima. She will be allowed to work and study if she wants to do that.

Michaella McCollum with Melissa Reid from Scotland. Photo: AP Photo/Peru's National Police
Michaella McCollum with Melissa Reid from Scotland. Photo: AP Photo/Peru's National Police

"She is also going to work as a volunteer for my church and for Fr Cathal Gallagher, who has an Aids charity here. Being on parole means that she only has to check in with the clerk and the prison system office for special and psychological questioning and to ensure that she remains in the country."

"She opted for getting out on parole in Peru. The fact is she is blending in better in this culture than the majority of foreign prisoners so she will fit in comfortably to life in the city," he added.

A judicial hearing will now be held to determine the conditions of her parole. She also owes a sum of money to the prison authorities in Peru.

Bishop Walsh was in court on Tuesday, March 29 when she was granted parole, he added: "I did not expect this. This is great news. I think the judge was wooed by her age, in my opinion.

"Michaella has been an exemplary prisoner. She learned Spanish. She has shown that she is intelligent, innovative and productive. I met with her on the day of her court appearance. She looked great and, of course, she was a little nervous until the announcement."

Michaella and Melissa Reid, from Scotland, were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.9m from Peru to Spain.

Irish Independent

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