Drug charge woman 'free within a month'

THE father of an Essex woman accused of drug trafficking in the Caribbean last night said he was "cautiously optimistic" his daughter could soon be freed.

THE father of an Essex woman accused of drug trafficking in the Caribbean last night said he was "cautiously optimistic" his daughter could soon be freed.

Roger Telfer returned to his Colchester home yesterday after a week-long visit to the Dominican Republic, where his 28-year-old daughter Marianne is being held in prison.

He described his trip to the paradise island as "moderately successful" and praised the country's authorities for the courtesy they had shown him.

Mr Telfer, 59, a part-time economics lecturer at Colchester Institute, travelled to the former Spanish colony with two representatives of Fair Trials Abroad, including its director Stephen Jakobi.


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Together, they have now assembled a strong legal team in preparation for a new habeas corpus application, which, if successful, could see her released within the month.

A date for the day-long hearing is expected to be set later this week.

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Mr Telfer, who singled out the EADT for special praise for highlighting his campaign to free his daughter, said the Dominican Republic authorities were well aware of the media coverage in the UK.

He said: "I think it helped us gaining access to the Attorney General with whom we had an excellent meeting on Friday.

"The prison conditions are quite good actually - she's in a new wing there. It was a bit bizarre in some ways as the prison governor was very keen to give me a personal tour of the jail - it's much better than I feared."

During the week, he was given daily access to Marianne, who shares a cell with three other English-speaking women at the Puerta Plata prison, and said she had been buoyed by his visit.

"I have been trying to raise her spiritually. She has been incarcerated for nine weeks and she was pretty depressed at the beginning of the week.

"We leave her in a rather better, more optimistic frame than at the beginning of the week.

"We are a little more optimistic now. We hope she is cleared within the month but the judicial processes do take time."

Mr Jakobi said yesterday: "We had an outstandingly successful mission. The main purpose was to find a decent lawyer and we have got a superb one. We also met both the junior judges, the Attorney General and the British ambassador and we got a pretty good feel of what is going on.

"Essentially, we are optimistic about the chances of the habeas corpus application. We are very hopeful. It is good news in all."

Miss Telfer, from Ardleigh, was arrested at the end of a two-week holiday hours after her boyfriend Richard Flack, 34, a landscape gardener also from Ardleigh, collapsed when 18 condoms containing cocaine burst inside him.

Miss Telfer, a social care home manager, maintains her innocence and insists she did not know that Mr Flack, who had been addicted to heroin, had swallowed the condoms in a bid to smuggle the drugs into the UK.

Mr Telfer's wife, Sheila, 58, a psychotherapist, has been in the Dominican Republic throughout their daughter's ordeal and plans to stay until her release.

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