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
Monday 26 August 2013
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
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."
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...
£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...