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Family of Peru drug smuggler insist she is innocent

The family of Michaella McCollum, who was jailed for over six years for attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru, have said they still believe she is innocent.

Michaella's sister Samantha said she was "devastated" over the ordeal and wished she could "look after and protect" her sister.

The family also revealed said they would not celebrating Christmas this year following the ordeal.

To hear more of the interview, visit ITV Daybreak

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Peru drug smugglers first claimed they were coerced

Michaela McCollum and Melissa Reid who had been working in Ibiza this summer, had previously claimed they were coerced into carrying the drugs by Colombian drug lords who kidnapped them at gunpoint.

Michaella McCollum, left, and Melissa Reid in court in August. Credit: Reuters

They said theywere forced to board a flight from Lima to Spain with 24lb of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage when they were arrested.

So far they have been held at the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima.

Their guilty pleas at the end of September came on the same day that the UN declared that Peru has now overtaken Colombia as the world's number one coca leaf producer, the raw material of cocaine.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, coca plantations in Peru covered 60,400 hectares last year.

Peru two 'very calm' as sentenced handed down

Michaela McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and co-accused Melissa Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, were sentenced to six years and eight months by Judge Pedro Miguel Puente Bardales in what was described as a "brief process".

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid leave a prison van to walk into court in Peru in September. Credit: Reuters

Judicial spokesman Daniel Vega said: "The women were very calm as the sentence was handed down at the court in the Sarita Colonia prison.

"They will now begin serving their sentence in the Santa Monica prison.

"It is still not clear whether they will be able to serve part of their sentence in the UK - the judge said that was not a decision for the court and they would have to reach an agreement with the prosecution."

Women in Peru admitted £1.5m cocaine smuggling bid

At an earlier hearing, Melissa Reid, from Scotland, and Irish-born Michaella McCollum pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine out of Peru.

Today they were told by a Peruvian court they will both serve six years and eight months in jail.

Reid and McCollum were photographed by police with their luggage after their detention in Lima. Credit: REUTERS/Peruvian National Police/Handout
At the time of the women's arrest police released image of food packaging they said contained cocaine. Credit: REUTERS/Peruvian National Police/Handout

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Peru drug pair each jailed for six years and eight months

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, who pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru in September, have both been jailed for six years and eight months.

Melissa Reid, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao. Credit: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao. Credit: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Hunting dolphins for shark bait 'barbaric'

Alison Wood from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group has condemned the practice of using dolphin meat as shark bait as "wasteful and barbaric".

Whale and Dolphin Conservation said the practice was barbaric. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

In an interview with ITV News, she said it was completely unnecessary to butcher the animals in this cruel, inhumane way.

"You can use fish guts, and all sorts of things to bait your hook, you don't need to use a sentient, intelligent animal like a dolphin. It is an awful waste. We are talking about a highly intelligent, social, feeling animal, and to see them hunted like this, is barbaric.

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