Update 10.25pm: Michaella McCollum, the drugs mule from Co Tyrone released from prison in Peru last week has insisted she is a good person who “didn’t understand the consequences of a bad decision”.
In an interview in Peru last night, she did acknowledge the potential damage the drugs could have on others. But she also made much of the impact the situation had on her.
McCollum was freed on parole last Thursday after serving more than two years in South American jails. It is anticipated she will have to remain in Peru for a considerable period as part of her parole conditions.
During the interview she acknowledged the potentially devastating consequences if she had successfully smuggled the drugs back to Europe.
“I potentially could have filled Europe full of a lot of drugs. I could have potentially killed a lot of people, not directly but I could have caused a lot of harm to people.”
But she appeared to defend herself by saying: “In life everybody makes mistakes. When people make mistakes it doesn’t general mean they are a bad person.
“It means they are human. I didn’t understand the consequences of a bad decision. I didn’t understand exactly what i was doing. I was very naive.”
She also claims she was targeted by the drug gang.
“I am 100% sure they knew I was alone and vulnerable because during the whole experience I was freaking out a lot and unsure of everything. They were kind of putting a little bit more work on me.”
She said she felt “sick with nerves, sick with worry” the night they were due to depart Peru with the drugs.
“I was too scared to walk away. I was worried if I walked away what was going to happen to me,” said McCollum.
“Where can I go? Then I was right, let’s do this, get it over.”
EarlierPeru drugs mule Michaella McCollum has said in her first interview since her release from prison that she wants to show she is a good person, not a bad person.
McCollum, from Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, from Scotland, were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5m from Peru to Spain.
McCollum was freed earlier this week under new legislation on early prison release introduced in Peru last year. She served two years and three months.
In an interview with the RTÉ Factual team tonight, she says taking part in the scheme to smuggle the drug was "a moment of madness", that she was young, insecure and naive at the time, and had found it difficult to say no to people.
She says: “I made a decision in a moment of madness…I’m not a bad person.. I want to demonstrate that I’m a good person."
McCollum, from Dungannon, and Reid, from Glasgow, were caught with the haul at Lima airport on August 6 2013 attempting to fly to Spain.
They had claimed they were forced into carrying the drugs but pleaded guilty to charges later that year.
The pair were caught trying to board a flight with 11kg of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage.
— RTÉ One (@RTEOne) April 3, 2016
McCollum says in the interview that she thinks about the damage that could have been done if she had successfully smuggled the drugs.
“If the drugs had of got back [to Europe] what could have happened? I probably would have had a lot of blood on my hands," she says.
“I potentially could have filled Europe full of a lot of drugs...I could have potentially killed a lot of people - not directly, but I could have caused a lot of harm to people.”
McCollum and Reid faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year prison term but struck a behind-closed-doors plea bargain to secure a shorter sentence.
The full interview is being broadcast on RTE One at 9.30pm tonight