NewsCrime Desk

Calls made for cocaine smuggler Michaella McCollum to pay back public donations

Crime DeskBy Steven Moore
Michaella McCollum
Michaella McCollum

CALLS have been made for cocaine smuggler Michaella McCollum to pay back more than £4,000 raised in public donations to fight her legal battle in Peru.

The Michaella Is Innocent fund was set up as the Tyrone girl first appeared in a Peru court­room charged with drug smuggling.

This week, the Sunday World was contacted by number of people who had donated to the fund in the belief McCollum was an innocent abroad. But now that she has come clean about her involvement in the drug smuggling racket they want their money back.

"Now she's finally admit­ted she was completely guilty, I think she should pay the money back," said one caller who didn't want to be named.

"The money was raised under false pretences. I live in Co Tyrone and when she was first arrested, a lot of people believed her aw­ful story and felt genuine sympathy for her.

"I didn't have much money, but I gave what I could to help, but now she's admitted on TV that she was guilty as sin she should pay it back."

The Sunday World un­derstands that part of the fund was used to pay her €3,500 fine, issued by the court in Lima when she pleaded guilty but her lawyers have refused to comment.

The Tyrone drugs mule had originally claimed she had been forced to smuggle €1.8m worth of cocaine into Europe when she was sensa­tionally arrested in Lima in August 2013.

She claimed the drugs gang had threatened to kill members of her family back in Co Tyrone if they failed to fly from Majorca to Peru to pick up the cocaine stash.

And she stuck to that for over a year until Peru­vian Police told an RTE documentary how she had confessed that her kidnap story was one big lie.

But it emerged that she had dropped her unlikely story as early as October 2013 – just two months af­ter she was arrested – yet she didn't tell the public, who were still being asked to donate their money to help pay her legal costs.

The fund, which was accessible through her Belfast lawyer's website, raised £4,415, which was well short of the £20,000 target friends and family had hoped to raise.

However, some people who donated are angry that she didn't publicly declare her guilt until last weekend, when she gave the now infamous inter­view to RTE.

The former nightclub dancer was released from prison having served two years and eight months in jail.

"She told the police in Peru that her story was a complete lie not long after she was arrested, but she never made that public and all the while people were giving her money to help her," said another angry caller. 

"Drug dealers are scum­bags and she made out she was a victim of drug dealers herself. I wouldn't have given her a penny if I'd known she had been guilty of it all along.

"Now she's going to make a fortune selling her story – she should pay all the money that was donat­ed to a charity that helps drug addicts."

The Sunday World contacted Michaella's legal representatives at Kevin Winters Solicitors, but they declined to comment.