Peru drug suspects 'could strike plea deal'

Wednesday 18 September 2013 14.02
Michaella McCollum (L) and Melissa Reid (C) were arrested at Lima airport
Michaella McCollum (L) and Melissa Reid (C) were arrested at Lima airport

A prosecutor in Peru has said that Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid could negotiate a deal and serve out their sentences in the UK if they plead guilty to drugs offences.

Ms McCollum, from Co Tyrone, and Ms Reid, from Scotland, were arrested at Lima airport after authorities said 11kg of cocaine worth £1.5m was found in their luggage.

The two women have been charged with drug trafficking and face a maximum penalty of 15-18 years in prison if convicted.

Peruvian counter narcotics prosecutor Luis Mendoza said the women could get their sentences drastically cut if they plead guilty.

"They are able to qualify for an early termination, which means they probably could get a sentence of six to eight years maximum," said Mr Mendoza.

He said that if Ms Reid and Ms McCollum were to plead guilty, they could be back in the UK within six months to one year after sentencing.

"It's very possible that they may serve their sentence in the United Kingdom. There is an agreement in our country that those convicted, meaning those that have been convicted, they can choose an early termination procedure.

"Assuming their guilt and paying civil damages and agreeing to the judgment, meaning there is no kind of appeal," added Mr Mendoza.

Mr Mendoza's comments came as Ms Reid's father, Billy, told ITV's Daybreak programme that his daughter would get a shorter sentence if she pleaded guilty.