Peru 'drugs mules' Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum 'had a good offer'

Shane Knowles, Reid's ex-boyfriend, says he doubts story they were forced to carry cocaine and that they chose to of their own accord

A former boyfriend of Melissa Reid, one of two British women accused of smuggling cocaine in Peru, has said the pair were not coerced and had planned to do it themselves.

Shane Knowles, 37, described by the Daily Mail as "a heavily tattooed convicted fraudster", dated Reid over the summer while she was in Ibiza. Reid, from Lenzie in Scotland and McCollum Connolly, from Dungannon in Northern Ireland, were caught in Lima trying to fly to Spain with £1.5m worth of cocaine stashed in food packages in their luggage.

The women say they were forced to carry the drugs by a gang of drug dealers who threatened to harm their families if they refused. But Knowles said this was unlikely and the pair would have had plenty of chances to back out.

"I told them not to get involved," he said. "They were girls who hung around people with money in villas. And then somebody made them a good offer and they went and did it.

"Everyone is out there with no money, trying to make money and they obviously got an incentive to do it."

Michaella McCollum Connolly, second right, and Melissa Reid, far right, after their arrest for drugs smuggling in Peru Michaella McCollum Connolly, second right, and Melissa Reid, far right, after their arrest for drugs smuggling in Peru

Knowles admitted that he did not know McCollum Connolly in person, but knew her circle of friends. The bodybuilder, who lost his left eye in 1999 when he was attacked in a gang-related fight, continued:

"They made a choice. There were plenty of chances they had to stop and walk away.

"They are going to have a hard time, aren’t they? Tough on them. All of these girls are just money hungry.

"[Melissa knew] another girl who did something naughty. The girl went and brought stuff back from Marbella.  It gave Melissa the confidence to do this."

The women are being held in the Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima. It may take three years before their case comes to trial.

It has emerged that Reid's father, William, wants the pair to plead guilty in order to get a shorter sentence. If they do so, they are expected to get about six years, or more than double that if they do not and are subsequently found guilty.

Reid, 53, said: "They were found to have drugs on them. They collected packages which transpired to be drugs. They are going to be guilty of that.

"If that’s the Peruvian law, regardless of the mitigating circumstances, then you are as well pleading guilty rather than defending that to the nth degree and be sitting there with 15 years that you’re trying to appeal and reduce.

"These girls are young. They may be living in cloud cuckoo land and thinking that magically next week they’re going to go free."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor