Drug smuggling accused's freedom fight

A CARE home manager held in a West Indies prison on drug trafficking charges fears she may never be set free despite her fierce denials, her sister said last night.

A CARE home manager held in a West Indies prison on drug trafficking charges fears she may never be set free despite her fierce denials, her sister said last night.

Catherine Telfer, 30, from Ardleigh, near Colchester, said her younger sister Marianne was finding life difficult in the Dominican Republic jail where she has been held since the death of her boyfriend Richard Flack five weeks ago.

Yesterday, her father, Roger, 58, a part-time economics lecturer at Colchester Institute, said Mr Flack – who died after swallowing bags of cocaine – had "duped and tricked" his daughter in the "most horrendous way".

Recovering heroin addict Mr Flack, 34, died after condoms filled with cocaine burst in his stomach as the couple prepared to fly home at the end of a two-week holiday.

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Marianne Telfer, a former Gilberd School pupil, tried desperately to resuscitate her boyfriend when he collapsed in their hotel room in mid-February.

The 28-year-old maintains her innocence and insists that she did not know he had swallowed drugs in an attempt to smuggle them back to the UK.

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Her family, an MP and a group which helps Britons imprisoned abroad, are fighting to free her and have held discussions with Foreign Office officials and the Dominican Republic ambassador in London.

Her mother Sheila, 57, flew to the West Indies to comfort her distraught daughter, who works as a care home manager at Acorn Village – a community for people with learning difficulties in the Colchester area - before the drugs allegations came to light.

Mrs Telfer remains in the Caribbean, but her elder daughter Catherine, who lived with couple in Ardleigh, has had to return after spending a week visiting her at the Puerto Placo prison.

"She's finding it really difficult. She was OK when I got out there, but by the time I had to come home, she was getting downhearted and really sad – she doesn't think she'll ever get out.

"She can't believe she's in this situation and doesn't know what to feel. She's angry with Richard for putting her in this position, but she's also grieving for him – they were very close."

She said Mr Flack, who was a landscape gardener in Colchester, had told her sister that he was a heroin addict two months meeting when he helped her move house.

"She believed in him," she said last night. "They looked good together, going out for drinks and meals regularly.

"He was supportive and protective of both of us, but as his friends have said to me, he was an addict – it's their nature to be devious.

"He was one of life's chancers and I guess he thought: 'Why not, let's have a go.'"

Her father, Roger Telfer, said he had met Mr Flack only a few times and added: "My daughter is an adult and it's her choice who she goes out with.

"Clearly he had good qualities and she is a caring person – that's her job. But in the end, he ended up duping and tricking her in the most horrendous way.

"We know she is innocent and the truth will come out, but she could lose her job and her reputation about all this.

"She has just been caught up in something she knew nothing about. She has no history of drug offences. She has absolutely no criminal offences whatsoever on her record."

"Richard was ingesting cocaine to smuggle it back into the UK. Clearly a number of the bags which he had ingested split and he died a particularly agonising death," said Mr Telfer.

"Marianne came back into the room and found him. She did all she could to help him but to no avail.

"There was a quantity of cocaine left in the room. Marianne was arrested a few hours later and has been charged with international drugs trafficking.

"She has been to court on a number of occasions and we are hopeful that she will be released.

"We are trying to get her released. Everybody who knows her is convinced of her innocence."

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