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'White substance' photos offered to newspapers

PHOTOGRAPHS purporting to be of one of the Peru drug mules, Melissa Reid, with an unidentified white substance up her nose, are being offered for sale to newspapers.

The pictures, which show the 20-year-old Briton looking down towards a camera with what appear to be white markings on her nostrils have generated interest from at least one UK newspaper.

The Sunday Independent has seen the photographs, but is not publishing them.

Meanwhile, Peter Madden, the lawyer for Melissa's co-accused, 20-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Co Tyrone, last night hit out at online abuse directed at the two women.

The prominent Belfast solicitor likened the abuse to the mockery endured by Jimmy Savile's victims when the story of his sexual abuse came to light.

In recent days, a picture of two children at a local village fete dressed up as the women has gone viral.

And scores of online commentators are now saying that they will follow suit for Halloween.

Mr Madden told the Sunday Independent: "People are people and they'll think everything is a laugh. There is no thought that it is hurtful. You had the same thing with people dressing up like Jimmy Savile, well that's pretty hurtful for people who have been abused. And you say why do people do that? Who knows? It's human nature."

The lawyer, who has also represented The Colombia Three and victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre, said there had been considerable public support for the two girls. Michaella's family are seeking public donations to help pay the girls' legal costs, air fares and expenses in jail, which could exceed €100,000 over the next two years.

"We would like to have her mother visit her as soon as possible, but it's expensive," Mr Madden added.

"People who are going down to Peru have offered to bring stuff down for us and they have made contact. So there have been a few of those. We have also received some donations for the family."

* Details of how the public can donate can be found on www.madden-finucane.com.

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