Fair trials group helping jailed woman

A LEADING specialist in securing justice for British citizens imprisoned overseas is flying to the Caribbean today to meet an Essex woman jailed in the Dominican Republic.

A LEADING specialist in securing justice for British citizens imprisoned overseas is flying to the Caribbean today to meet an Essex woman jailed in the Dominican Republic.

The moves comes as care home manager Marianne Telfer reveals in a letter to the EADT how she is becoming more depressed each day she is held.

Stephen Jakobi, director of charity Fair Trials Abroad, is making the trip with Roger Telfer, the father of 28-year-old Miss Telfer who is in custody in a prison known as "The Fortress".

They will be accompanied by a Cambridge lawyer, Sarah de Mas, who specialises in cases such as Marianne's.

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Marianne, a care home manager from Ardleigh, was arrested after her boyfriend Richard Flack, 34, collapsed and died after condoms filled with cocaine burst inside his stomach.

The pair were on holiday together when Mr Flack died. Miss Telfer has so far spent eight weeks in prison.

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Miss Telfer, who insists she is innocent of drug trafficking, faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted. She insists she did not know Mr Flack had swallowed drugs in an attempt to smuggle them back to the UK, and that she has become caught up in something she knew nothing about.

In the statement for the EADT she said: "I am in my eighth week now since being arrested in the Dominican Republic. I cannot believe I have been here this long.

"I am getting more depressed now and getting tearful more frequently due to the feelings of despair and missing my wonderful family and friends.

"Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, is coming to see me and my dad, Roger, is also coming out.

"I have not seen my father since the end of January so I am really excited, but I know it will be very emotional and am already wondering about him having to go back to the UK."

She added that conditions in the jail were not unbearable.

"I am being treated well by the guards at the prison. Of course, the language barrier is hard, but they always have a warm smile and handshake, and we exchange a few pleasantries.

"A woman from my cell has been released, so I have moved to a different bed and am now not getting soaked at night when it rains.

"I am taking one day at a time. If I look too far ahead I know that I would not cope. I don't even want to imagine being here weeks and weeks."

But Mr Jakobi yesterday warned: "We have got to make some assumptions that this is for the long haul and that there's going to be a trial. Therefore we have got to find the best defence lawyer possible."

He said he hopes to speak to Ministry of Justice officials and British embassy and consulate staff to see what can be done to sort out the situation during his week-long visit.

Although Mr Jakobi said he could not predict how long the case would take, he said: "This is a simple case. There's not much evidence to find. The evidence is against her (Ms Telfer's) travelling companion, there's nothing against her.

"I would expect the process to go quickly, with the hearing by the end of May at the latest."

However, Mr Jakobi's previous involvement with the Dominican Republic was a case involving two legitimate Dutch jewellers who were accused of money laundering. They were in jail for two years and are still awaiting trial.

Yesterday Roger Telfer said that he and Mr Jakobi hoped to improve Marianne's position with their visit.

"We want to strengthen her legal representation, and make sure she has the best possible lawyers for trial, if this does go to trial.

"We also want to try and meet with some legal officials, possibly the Attorney General.

"Also, we want to raise the profile of the case in the Dominican Republic itself."

He added that it would be the first time he would have seen his wife Sheila for seven weeks.

Mrs Telfer flew to the Domican Republic shortly after Marianne's arrest to give support to her daughter.

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