“Peru Two” drugs mule Michaella McCollum has told how she cried and felt she was “losing it” as she struggled to sleep in her South American prison cell infested by cockroaches.
McCollum spent three years in a Peruvian prison after trying to take cocaine out of the country and she has revealed the horrors in new BBC documentary “High: Confessions of an Ibiza Drug Mule”.
She said the cockroaches made her paranoid at the Virgin de Fatima prison were she was held as she awaited trial.
“They would hide during the day, and when I would get into bed you would hear them crawling up,” she said.
“I used to just cover myself with a sheet and hope they didn’t crawl on me. I was really paranoid because I felt like my skin was crawling all the time.
“I went to see the prison doctor and he basically said I was crazy because I felt like there was things on me but there wasn’t. Basically, I was really losing it.”
McCollum and Melissa Reid were caught trying to take 11kg of cocaine worth around £1.5million to Spain in 2013, having been employed by a drug gang.
They made an agreement to confess and receive a reduced sentence of six years and eight months.
She has horrific memories of her time in prison including two inmates fighting with one holding a long needle.
“She just leaped across the table and started attacking this other girl, her blood and hair were everywhere,” she recalled.
“After the first few horrendous months there I did slowly start to drop my guard a bit…I kind of figured if they wanted me dead it would have happened by now.”
There were some positives for her as well as she learnt Spanish working in a basic beauty salon at the prison.
“I learned the prison had its very own beauty salon, more like a few chairs and mirrors and a concrete room, but for me it was heaven,” she said.
“I got a job and I would do different hair treatments, colouring and cutting, blow-dries, waxing, nails, massage.
“I had no real qualifications, I was winging it but I was good at it. I had a lot of clients.
After three years inside, the Peru Two were released and after returning home to Northern Ireland, McCollum is now a mum of twin boys and is studying for a degree.
“When you’re young you don’t know it all,” she said.
“I made a dreadful mistake and I regret it, but what prison taught me made me who I am today and that’s a better person than I would have been otherwise.”