15 Sep 2013

Peru drugs woman: guilty plea could save 19 years in prison

Guilty plea could cut 19 years off the prison sentence for Melissa Reid, the 20-year-old Scot in Peru charged with cocaine smuggling.

One of the two British women in prison in Peru charged with smuggling £1.5m cocaine, is prepared to change her plea to guilty to get a shorter sentence.

A guilty plea could cut Melissa Reid’s sentence from 25 years to 6 years and 8 months.

Ms Reid’s family in Scotland are hoping that the shorter sentence could see her released from prison in as little as three years. They’re also praying that she could be transferred to a prison in Scotland.

The 20-year-old was caught in Lima airport with luggage containing 11kg of cocaine. Along with friend Michaella McCollum she is currently imprisoned in Lima’s Virgen de Fatima prison waiting trial.

“I am really scared about what I am about to do but I am also relieved that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, in a telephone interview with the Mail.

“I’m now coming to terms with the fact I am so far away from my family. This is real.

“After a lot of thought and advice from my lawyer I am going to go in front of the judge and admit I was in possession of the drugs and that I went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain – I am willing to plead guilty to that.

“I did it under duress, I still maintain that, and I am glad I do not have to say I accepted money to do it.”

The pair claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members.

“They don’t believe we were forced and they seem to think it’s our job to find the evidence – but it’s very hard to do that from behind bars. This is the easy way out for them.”

They have 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.

Miss Reid’s father William has previously said he believes the pair should plead guilty in order to get the legal process over quickly.

He told the Mail: “We are considering this as good a result as we could have hoped for.

“It seems strange to be happy about the prospect of your 20-year-old daughter being sentenced to six years and eight months in jail, but we are delighted.

“Crucially, we could start pushing for her to be transferred to Scotland.”

It is also reported that Ms McCollum is considering changing her plea too.