DRUG MULE MICHAELLA CONNOLLY JAILED FOR SMUGGLING COCAINE

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid arrive for court on Tuesday evening

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid arrive for court on Tuesday evening

THE Northern Ireland woman caught with a pal trying to smuggle cocaine out of Peru have been sentenced to six years and eight months each in prison.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, of Lenzie, near Glasgow, both 20, admitted trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5m out to Spain.

The pair, who have already spent more than four months in jail, faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.

According to their lawyer they have received the minimum sentencing after agreeing to co-operate with the legal authorities.

The women were caught with 24lb of cocaine in their luggage.

They were stopped and searched at Lima’s international airport where the cocaine was found hidden inside packages of food.

Police said they had been due to fly to Madrid, then onto Majorca.

The women had reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

They claimed they were then sent to Peru and forced to carry the drugs in their luggage.

But after they admitted the offences in September, their sentencing was delayed because prosecutors were not satisfied with the details of their confessions.

The women had reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

Peruvian police believe this is Michaela McCollum Connolly returning to her hotel with 11kg of cocaine

Peruvian police believe this is Michaela McCollum Connolly returning to her hotel with 11kg of cocaine

They claimed they were then sent to Peru and forced to carry the drugs in their luggage.

It has been suggested that the women may be able to serve part of their sentence in a UK prison.

The Foreign Office in London said a prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Peru does exist.

The Ministry of Justice added that the country receiving the prisoner would pay the cost of them serving their sentence.

Prisoners who want to serve their sentence in either Northern Ireland or Scotland have to apply to the prison service for their part of the UK.

A Northern Ireland Prison Service spokesman said McCollum would need to make representation initially to the Peruvian authorities.

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