Drug jail girl will not langusih in jail

THE father of a woman accused of drug trafficking after her boyfriend died trying to smuggle cocaine hidden in his stomach said he had been given "assurances" she would not languish in jail awaiting trial.

THE father of a woman accused of drug trafficking after her boyfriend died trying to smuggle cocaine hidden in his stomach said he had been given "assurances" she would not languish in jail awaiting trial.

Roger Telfer, Fair Trials Abroad director Stephen Jakobi and Colchester MP Bob Russell met the Dominican Republic ambassador yesterday in a bid to secure the release of Marianne Telfer.

Miss Telfer, 28, of Colchester, was arrested in the Dominican Republic at the end of a two-week holiday hours after her boyfriend Richard Flack, 34, a landscape gardener also from Colchester, collapsed when 18 condoms containing cocaine burst inside him.

Mr Telfer said he was "quite pleased” with the meeting, where he had been told his daughter's trial would be "sooner rather than later”, but said he was concerned for her welfare as she was being held in "awful conditions' and was becoming increasingly depressed.

"We were sort of given assurances that it would happen within months rather than years, which is really good news,' Mr Telfer said.

"Marianne needs that good news because she is getting extremely depressed.

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"She has been promised twice that she would be released, only to be disappointed.

"You can imagine the sort of rollercoaster effect this has.

"First of all she was very, very brave and confident, but things are dragging on and on and she's getting more and more depressed.

"We all know that she is innocent and the Foreign Office and the Consulate are all of the same mind.”

Mr Telfer, whose wife is in the Dominican Republic and can visit their daughter, said she was being held in a cell with three other women, one of whom was a murderer.

He said the prisoners were given a bunch of green bananas and a giant salami to feed them for a week, although Mrs Telfer was allowed to bring in extra food.

He said when it rained the cell flooded and Miss Telfer's mattress became soaking wet.

The social care 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 Jakobi, whose organisation helps Britons imprisoned abroad, said: "The message was pretty clear that there was a process running and it is going to be difficult to interfere with it.'

He said this meant a trial seemed the most likely option and they had been given "some assurances' it would happen quickly, he hoped in May.

Mr Jakobi said a previous case in the Dominican Republic had seen a Briton held for two years before being released prior to his trial.

"We made it absolutely clear that anything like this was totally unacceptable,' he said.

Mr Jakobi and another Fair Trials Abroad representative will travel to the Dominican Republic for a week on April 12 to try to meet ministers and assemble a strong legal team.

He said the organisation would also ask its patrons and all MEPs to put pressure on the Dominican Republic ambassador to the European Union.

"It will make them realise that she is an EU citizen and there is more at stake than just Britain,” he added.

Miss Telfer, who manages a home for adults with learning difficulties in Colchester, was arrested five weeks ago and is being held at a mixed prison in Puerto Plato awaiting trial.

Mr Russell said he would advise anyone planning to travel to the Dominican Republic to think again.

"At the moment I wouldn't accept a free holiday there,” he said.

"Quite frankly, if this can happen to an innocent person, just imagine what would happen to you if you got caught up with a group and one of that number got into trouble for whatever reason - would you all end up in prison?”

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