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Friday 2 December 2016

'Enjoy lost time' with family - drug smuggler's advice to Michaella

Michaella Connolly with pal Kaouthar Essafi in Lima in April 2016
Michaella Connolly with pal Kaouthar Essafi in Lima in April 2016

A cocaine-smuggling jailbird friend of drugs mule Michaella McCollum urged the Irishwoman to "enjoy lost time with family" as she returned home.

The 23-year-old flew in to Dublin on Saturday night after travelling from Lima via London. She was arrested in Lima Airport in 2013.

McCollum spent less than three years in prison for trying to smuggle 11kg of cocaine with Glaswegian Melissa Reid.

She was ordered to spend the next six years of her sentence on parole in Lima, but last week she was given permission to return home.

DUP MLA Maurice Morrow criticised her homecoming, saying it resembled the case of a "minor celebrity".

Melissa Reid
Melissa Reid

In recent months McCollum was pictured living it up in the Peruvian capital with Dutch coc- aine smuggler Kaouthar Essafi, who she befriended in prison.

Essafi posted a message on Facebook on Saturday that read: "Enjoy ur lost time with ur family.

"Leave ur past behind and start a new chapter using all the experiences u have learned from. See u soon in Europe."

McCollum marked her return to her Co Tyrone home last night with a quiet celebration with her family and friends.

Although there was no red carpet or welcome home banner to mark her first time at home in three years, she was joined by those who have supported her at her mother Nora's home in Dungannon.

After her plane touched down in Dublin, she was whisked to the North with two women, believed to be her mother and sister.

Red and green balloons could be seen dotted throughout the kitchen of the house for the celebrations after McCollum's three years in jail.

Neighbours said they were not aware of her impending arrival until a number of cars started to arrive at the house.

Parked

One local resident, who did not want to be named, said the homecoming continued into the night.

"There was an unusual amount of cars parked outside the house. While I didn't see Michaella, I saw a few of her family members," said the resident.

"They definitely seemed to be having a party and I heard it was for her.

"I'm sure she will be welcomed back by her friends and family, but I'm not sure about everyone else."

McCollum walked through the arrivals area of Dublin Airport alone and did not talk to waiting reporters and photographers as she dragged two suitcases behind her.

Hours before she landed in Dublin, the former dancer and photography student posted pictures on Instagram as she prepared for her long journey home.

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