'Peru Two' drugs mule Michaella McCollum defends herself against furious Piers Morgan attack for releasing book on life in South American jail
- Michaella, from Co Tyrone, Ireland, was arrested in 2013 along with Melissa Reid
- She was found guilty and jailed for six years for attempting to smuggle cocaine
- She defended her decision to write and release a book on Good Morning Britain
Convicted drugs smuggler Michaella McCollum has spoken on Good Morning Britain about her decision to release a book about life in a South American prison.
Michaella, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone was arrested in 2013 along with Melissa Reid for attempting to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine through Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru.
She was found guilty and jailed for six years for her crimes but is now living back in Northern Ireland, where she is bringing up two sons born last year.
'How frighted were you Michaella when it was discovered what you were carrying?' co-host Susanna Reid asked during Wednesday's show.
'It was petrifying ... and it took a while for me to realise how much trouble I had gotten into,' Ms McCollum replied.
'I didn't even think about the consequences...,' she added.
'What were you thinking?' asked Susanna Reid.
'I wasn't really thinking at all I was just so stupid ... I knew it was going to be drugs but I didn't think much into it,' Ms McCollum replied.
'What were you thinking?' asked co-host Susanna Reid. 'I wasn't really thinking at all I was just so stupid ... I knew it was going to be drugs but I didn't think much into it,' Ms McCollum replied.
Both Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, who had met in Ibiza in 2013, initially claimed armed gangsters had forced them to carry the cocaine – when in fact they had willingly smuggled the drugs in exchange for £5,000.
They were found in possession of 11kg of cocaine hidden inside food packets in their luggage as they prepared to board a flight from Lima to Madrid.
McCollum was released on parole in March 2016 after serving less than half of her sentence but was initially required to stay in Peru, where she carried out voluntary work.
Reid was released from prison in June last year, flying back to Scotland shortly afterwards.
Miss McCollum said in a previous interview that she no longer sees her fellow smuggler Melissa Reid but that the pair were 'still in touch', adding: 'She's doing good and is very happy.'
Former model Michaella now has a management company looking after her called BLVK. Their list of clients include a raft of reality TV stars who appeared in Geordie Shore and Ex on the Beach, like Gaz Beadle, Abbie Holborn and Sarah Goodhart.
I'm writing the book to raise awareness, making a small amount of money from it. I'm not doing it for the money, I want to tell my story,' she told Piers Morgan
Wednesday's appearance comes on the back of other media appearances by Ms McCollum who is promoting her book, 'You'll Never See Daylight Again.' She appeared on Lorraine on October 31. Viewers tweeted their anger during that interview, with one asking, 'Why are they giving this criminal the air time?'
When she was again asked about the huge amount of cocaine she had tried to smuggle, the devastating effects it would have on its eventual users and the personal risks to her and Ms Read, Ms McCollum admitted she wasn't thinking when she made the decision to go ahead with the scheme.
'I look back and don't know how I didn't realise what I was doing. I wasn't told much about anything.'
Belfast resident Michaella McCollum Connolly (L) and British citizen Melissa Reid (R) stand together while being photographed by police after being arrested at the airport in Lima, Peru
GMB co-host Piers Morgan then grilled Ms McCollum on her reasons for writing the book and questioned her explanation that 'she wasn't thinking.'
'£5,000 wasn't enough money for doing what I was being asked to do,' she added.
Mr Morgan said he didn't feel sorry for McCollum and asked 'why should you make any money out of the book?'
'I'm writing the book to raise awareness, making a small amount of money from it. I'm not doing it for the money, I want to tell my story,' she said.
'Young people make stupid decisions. I'm not profiting. I feel like if I would have done paid interviews and TV shows that were offered then it would be different.
'I don't expect people's opinions on me to change.'
Ms McCollum added that any proceeds from the book would go toward clearing debts.
WHO ARE THE PERU TWO?
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly were arrested in August 2013 for attempting to smuggle £1.5million (€1.75 million) worth of cocaine out of Peru.
In June 2013, McCollum had travelled to Balearic island Ibiza to work as a dancer in a bar for that summer.
On July 31, Reid flew to South America while McCollum followed a day later.
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly were arrested in August 2013 for attempting to smuggle £1.5million (€1.75 million) worth of cocaine out of Peru
The women, then aged just 19 and 20, carried the cocaine in food packages hidden in their luggage. Reid revealed that there was so much cocaine they were only able to fit in a few items of clothing to cover it
On August 6, McCollum was reported missing to the Police Service of Northern Ireland by her family, the same day as her arrest.
The duo were seized at Lima airport with 11kg of the Class A drug in their suitcases as they tried to check-in for a flight to Spain.
At the time of their arrest the women's families had believed that they were in Ibiza doing bar work.
Following their arrest on August 6, the pair claimed they had been kidnapped by an armed gang and flown to Peru.
The women, who did not know each other beforehand, claim they were unwittingly introduced by friends to drugs runners, who threatened their families if they did not agree to smuggle cocaine.
The duo were sentenced to six years in prison but both served under half of that
Their story was described as ‘illogical’ and they later pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, but claimed they were doing so to secure a more lenient sentence.
During their sentencing in December 2013 the women learned they had escaped the most severe 15-year penalty in return for pleading guilty and passing on information about the gang that supplied the drugs.
On December 17 2013 Reid and McCollum were sentenced to six years and eight months in jail at the notorious Santa Monica prison in Chorrillo.
While their original sentence was due to last until April 2020 both women served a reduced sentence.
McCollum was released on parole in March 2015 after serving less than half of her sentence but was required to stay in Peru until February 2016.
Reid returned to the UK in June 2016 after serving just under half of her six-year prison sentence.