Michaella McCollum returns to Ireland three years after Peru drug arrest

‘I just want to find my family. Have you seen my family inside?’ she asked when approached by The Irish Times

Michaella McCollum arrives in Ireland three years after her arrest in Peru for drug smuggling. Video: Elaine Edwards/The Irish Times

 

Convicted Irish drug smuggler Michaella McCollum returned to Ireland on Saturday evening three years after she was arrested with Scottish woman Melissa Reid as they tried to board a flight in Lima carrying 11kg of cocaine with an estimated value of €1.8 million.

McCollum (23) was released from prison in March but due to ongoing legal proceedings was unable to return home to Dungannon in Co Tyrone.

Reid was released in June and was ordered to leave Peru after a judge said she had served her time after spending less than three years of her six-year-and-eight-month sentence in prison.

The pair were arrested in August 2013 as they were about to board a flight to Madrid while in possession of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage.

McCollum arrived at Dublin Airport at about 8.30pm on a flight from London. She declined to speak to the media but said she just wanted to find her family.

She walked through the arrivals hall alone wheeling luggage and remained outside for several minutes waiting for family members.

McCollum declined to say what she planned to do here or where she would stay.

“I just want to find my family. Have you seen my family inside?” she asked when approached by The Irish Times.

Asked where she planned to go, she answered: “Home.”

She later left towards the airport car park in the company of two women.

In an interview with RTÉ following her release on parole, McCollum described her decision to smuggle the drugs as “a moment of madness”.

She said she planned to study psychology after returning home and believes she deserves a second chance.

“In life, everybody makes mistakes, people make mistakes, it doesn’t make them a bad person,” she said.