British Woman Sentenced to Three Years in Egyptian Jail for Drug Smuggling

Published December 26th, 2017 - 02:46 GMT
Yesterday, her lawyer said Ms Plummer had 'accidentally' confessed in front of a judge after reportedly misunderstanding a question. (AFP/File)
Yesterday, her lawyer said Ms Plummer had 'accidentally' confessed in front of a judge after reportedly misunderstanding a question. (AFP/File)

 

  • A British woman is facing the next three years in Prison in Egypt
  • She was convicted of drug smuggling
  • Her lawyer claims she accidentally confessed 
  • The case has been raised the case with British authorities 

 

A British woman has been sentenced to three years in an Egyptian prison after being found guilty of smuggling drugs into the country.

Shop worker Laura Plummer, 33, from Hull, was arrested after she was found to be carrying 290 Tramadol tablets in her suitcase, a painkiller which is legal in the U.K. but banned in Egypt.

Ms Plummer's family, who have described her as 'naive', said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar Caboo, who suffers from severe back pain.

But now a judge at a preliminary court has sentenced her to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,205).

Yesterday, her lawyer said Ms Plummer had 'accidentally' confessed in front of a judge after reportedly misunderstanding a question.

Ms Plummer's family previously claimed she was suicidal after sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

It has also been claimed that staff at the jail - which is on the outskirts of the city of Hurgharda - have shown little sympathy for what the Egyptian media are calling the 'Tramadol Tourist'.

Mr Caboo was described by witnesses at the court as being 'very sad' after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her down.

Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Sinclair, said: 'This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence.

'She brought [the drugs] to help someone, to help a family.'

She added: 'She's the kindest person... I was worried about her before, [when she was] in the police station. I'm even more worried now she's in actual prison with real criminals.

'I feel sick - I'm so frightened for her.'

She has now been transferred to a police station, from which she will be sent to jail.

The sentence, however, can be changed as the case progresses through the Egyptian legal system.

It is expected to take a minimum of one month for the second stage of the case to begin.

The family said her lawyers lodged an immediate appeal.

Ms Plummer's sister, Rachel, said their mother Roberta was 'devastated' by the sentence.

Rachel said her mother was 'devastated' by the sentence.

She said the family was trying to find out more details about what happened in the courtroom today.

She said: 'My mum's obviously devastated. She's out there by herself.' She added that she did not know whether the appeal would be heard today.

She said: 'We're just hoping. Even half of that would be better. Anything less than three years. She doesn't deserve that.'

 

 

Ms Plummer's MP Karl Turner said the ruling had come as a devastating blow to her family but he was hopeful that good sense would eventually prevail.

He said her case had been raised with the Egyptian authorities by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt.

'I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail,' he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

'This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

'This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison.'

Yesterday her lawyer said she had 'accidentally' pleaded guilty during a hearing.

Her mother Roberta Sinclair travelled to Egypt for the Christmas Day hearing.

Her lawyer Dia al-Bassal said Ms Plummer was asked yesterday: 'You are accused of smuggling and possessing Tramadol to Egypt?'

She then replied 'yes', with the judge ensuring the clerk recorded she had 'confessed' to the crime.

But when her translator explained what the question was, she denied being guilty of the charge.

Mr Bassal told The Telegraph: 'She meant that she is admitting that she had the Tramadol, but not admitting of being guilty.

'The judge jumped to the conclusion that she confesses before clarifying that she understood the question and this is worrying.'

Ms Plummer then reportedly wept in frustration, stressing 'it's not fair'.

Her lawyer will submit an explanation today emphasising that she meant to say she had the drug with her but did not intend to sell it.

Her sister Rachel Plummer said the judge adjourned the case for a day because of Laura's condition.

She said: 'She's sleep deprived, she's visibly nervous and upset.

'She's answered some questions wrong because she's not understanding them, she obviously can't think straight.

'You can imagine the pressure - this is her life.'

She said their mother and Mr Caboo were denied access to the hearing as their driver took them to court late.

Meanwhile, the Hull East MP Karl Turner has praised the Government and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's efforts for the Plummers.

He told Sky News the hearing was adjourned so that Ms Plummer could find another interpreter.

He said: 'Apparently something was lost in translation, the defence lawyer wasn't confident that Laura was understanding the questions first of all, and the interpreter wasn't correctly translating what Laura was saying in her answers.'

The Labour MP said Foreign Minister Alistair Burt had been to Egypt and spoken to his counterparts.

He said: 'I don't think we could have asked for any more.

'Unfortunately ministers can only do so much, the judiciary in Egypt is independent and impartial and the judge will come to a view without any outside influence.'

Mr Turner said: 'The evidence is pretty clear that she didn't know the drug was banned and she was taking it out there to help her boyfriend, who has come up with the evidence that he does suffer from a severe back problem.

'The lawyer acting for them is very honest and has said the situation is very serious.

'But there is an awful lot of good things to say on behalf of Laura, and hopefully the judge will use his or her discretion.'

The Plummer family has previously said she had no idea that what she doing was illegal and was just 'daft'.

They said she did not try to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was pulled over by officials after arriving for a holiday with her partner.

Mrs Sinclair said her daughter was being held in terrible conditions in a communal cell with no beds, sharing with up to 25 other women.

She said she looked 'unrecognisable'.

 

 

Ms Plummer is being held in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, where she was arrested at the airport on October 9.

Her family has been told that she could face up to 25 years in jail, with one lawyer even mentioning the death penalty.

Yesterday her lawyer claimed the price of her plane ticket could set her free.

Mohamed Othman said that a plane ticket shows she did not intend to sell the 290 Tramadol tablets found in her suitcase because she paid twice as much for her flight as the drugs are worth.

Othman called the plane ticket a 'key piece of evidence'.

He told The Sun: 'For someone to be found guilty of drug smuggling they have to be aware that they are possessing narcotics. Laura did not know that what she was carrying was a narcotic.

'It is illogical that she was dealing in Tramadol.She had only 320 pills - even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills.'

Plummer wept in court as she appeared in front of a judge on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is a normal working day in the Islamic country, and the shop assistant from Hull appeared in the dock handcuffed.

Miss Plummer's mother Roberta Sinclair and Mr Caboo arrived late to the courtroom and stood outside.

Mr Caboo, speaking outside of court, was convinced Miss Plummer would be freed.

He told MailOnline: 'I am sure Laura is innocent. She did not bring the Tramadol for selling or trading.

'I am sure she will be freed. She did not intend to do smuggle or trade.'

Miss Plummer was arrested at Hurghada Airport on October 9, and signed a 38-page document written in Arabic as she thought it would grant her freedom.

It led to her being locked up and she has already spent ten weeks in prison sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

Her family have insisted she has been treated fairly by the Egyptian justice system, which will today decide whether to postpone her hearing or accept a bail offer.

The ordeal has been a hammer blow to the family, who claim Miss Plummer had no idea what she doing was illegal and was just 'daft'.

Last month, her mother Roberta Sinclair said: 'She did not realise what she was doing'.

She said Ms Plummer made no attempt to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was first pulled over by officials when she flew into the country for a holiday with Mr Caboo.

Mrs Sinclair said her daughter was being held in terrible conditions in a communal cell with no beds, sharing with up to 25 other women.

She said she looked 'unrecognisable'.

Ms Plummer is being held in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, where she was arrested at the airport on October 9.

Her family has been told that she could face up to 25 years in jail, with one lawyer even mentioning the death penalty.

Miss Plummer's Christmas Day court appearance was thought to be the beginning of her trial but there is a possibility the case could be adjourned to another date.

Despite Miss Plummer pleading her innocence, prosecutors persuaded a court in Hurghada to send her for trial – and she will appear before a judge at the main criminal court in Safaga.

While drug smuggling carries a death sentence in Egypt, it is more likely Miss Plummer could be jailed for seven years if convicted.

Her lawyer Mohamed Osman has warned that family that even if she is cleared of drug smuggling she could still get two years in jail for being in possession of a banned substance.

Her legal team are to put in a bail application that could see Laura freed from the detention centre where she has been since October 9.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

You may also like