Peru drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly could walk free from prison next year
Drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly could be freed next year under a new law designed to empty Peru's crowded jails of foreign inmates.
The head of the country's prison service, José Luis Pérez Guadalupe, said the Dungannon woman and her Scottish pal Melissa Reid could apply for early release under an 'expulsion law' once they have served a third of their sentences.
The women, known as the Peru Two, were jailed for six years and eight months, starting from their arrest in August last year, so a third of their sentence could be completed as early as November 2015.
Mr Pérez Guadalupe told The Mail on Sunday: "This law was created for people who are not the big fishes, like those girls, who are not in a criminal organisation."
Both women are still hoping to be transferred home through Britain's extradition treaty with Peru. But Melissa's father Billy said: "This is great in that it's another route for her to come home. It's also positive in that she wouldn't have to do any time over here, or, we understand, have a criminal record."
McCollum (20) and Reid (21) were caught last August trying to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine out of Peru and were jailed after pleading guilty.
The women had told the world's media they had been threatened with being shot if they did not make the journey from the Spanish holiday island, where they had been working in clubs and bars, after being befriended by a man from London. Despite the pleas, McCollum publicly kept up the façade that she had been kidnapped to carry out the cocaine run.
But in July, Peruvian police revealed for the first time how McCollum finally admitted she did smuggle cocaine for cash after being broke and homeless on the party island of Ibiza.
They said she offered her services to a South American drugs gang for €5,000 after she met them in a San Antonio bar and that she and Reid revealed the full details in signed statement to prosecutors in October.
Prosecutors revealed the encounter came as McCollum Connolly's dreams of becoming a nightclub dancer were left shattered after bar owners told her she did not have enough experience.