AGONY OF DRUG MULE BRITON'S FATHER; as His Daughter Faces Prospect of 25-Year Jail Sentence in Peru
Byline: EXCLUSIVE From Louise Eccles in Lima, Peru
IT WAS hardly the reunion William Reid had imagined when he waved his daughter Melissa off to Ibiza seven weeks ago.
In a police station in distant Peru, he tries to comfort his distraught child, stroking her hair and kissing her head as she sobs into his chest. She cannot hug him back because her hands are cuffed. When he sees the chains around her wrists, he breaks down too.
The emotional scene yesterday was the first time Mr Reid had seen his daughter since she and Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle [pounds sterling]1.5million worth of cocaine out of Peru.
Police officers believe they were knowingly involved in smuggling, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail. The women claim Colombian gangsters forced them to fly from Spain to Peru to act as drug mules. Exhausted from travel yesterday, it took Mr Reid a few seconds even to realise it was his child rushing towards him. Her face thin, deep bags under her eyes, she was barely recognisable from the happy, tanned teenager he had seen in photographs of her holiday she posted on Facebook.
Today Melissa turns 20, but there will be no celebrations at Lima's maximum Turn to Page 4
Continued from Page One security Dirandro police station, where Mr Reid, 54, was allowed only 15 minutes with his daughter on his first visit.
He said he was living his worst nightmare, and could scarcely believe what was happening.
While he flew out to Lima, his wife Debra, 53, a National Grid administrator, remained at their home in Lenzie, Glasgow, to look after their other children Liam, 22, and twins Stephanie and Jennifer, 18.
Seven weeks earlier, he had dropped off his 'bubbly, intelligent' daughter at Glasgow airport for her flight to the Spanish party island of Ibiza, where she planned to work in bars and clubs for a season. Mr Reid, a manager for a gas company, told her to 'have fun but be careful' On August 6, Melissa and Michaella were caught at Lima airport with nearly six kilos of cocaine hidden in their suitcases as they waited to board a flight to Madrid.
Melissa claims Colombian gangsters took her from Ibiza to Palma in Majorca, and then Madrid. At least one gang member escorted her on each flight.
Physically shaking, Melissa told her father: 'They made me do it.' But as he broke down, she told him soothingly 'I know Dad' and reached for his hand.
She spoke quickly as she told him how one of her new female friends in Ibiza had introduced her to a charming British man who gave his name as Jake. She said he had seemed 'really nice and friendly', and he came back to the apartment she shared with a close friend from home, 20-year-old Rebecca Hughes.
There, she claimed, he became aggressive. 'I felt really scared because I was alone in the flat. He told me I had to come and meet some of his friends and pressured me to get into a taxi.' Then she was bundled into a flat and confronted by a group of Colombian gangsters, who put a gun to her head. She said: 'I could feel the metal against my temple. I thought they were going to kill me. They said they knew all about me and my family. …