Tourist freed after ‘14 months of hell’
BRITISH tourist Laura Plummer has been freed after 14 months in an Egyptian jail for having painkillers.
Laura, 34, got three years for having painkillers that are illegal in Egypt but was freed after being pardoned, The Sun reported.
"My two-week holiday in the sun turned into a nightmare," she said of her 14 months of hell in an Egyptian jail.
Laura was arrested and convicted on drug charges after 290 Tramadol prescription painkillers were found in her luggage at an airport.
The 34-year-old shop worker had planned to give them to her Egyptian husband Omar for his chronic back pain.
Laura, who had no idea that Tramadol is illegal in Egypt, said: "I tried to explain myself but nothing I said or did made any difference.
"It was just ridiculous. I wanted to help Omar and do a kind thing and I ended up in prison.
"At one stage I thought, 'I must be dead and this is hell'."
Laura was sentenced to three years in Cairo's notorious Al Qanater prison.
But following a campaign from newspaper The Sun she has been granted a presidential pardon and was moved to a police station.
She also made a brief appearance in court where the paperwork for her release and deportation was approved. She is due to begin her journey home to Hull on Monday (local time).
Laura, speaking from the police station, wept as she said: "The Sun has saved my life.
"I don't know what I would have done without your help. I dread to think what would have happened.
"I'm so happy to be going home. I mean, who goes on holiday for two weeks and then stays 14 months?
"I just wish I wasn't being deported. But I promise you - I'll never set foot in an airport again."
Laura was arrested in October 2017 after flying in from Manchester.
Tramadol, a prescription-only painkiller in the UK, is banned in Egypt because it can be used as a heroin substitute.
Laura explained the pills were for Omar, 34, who has chronic back pain following a car crash.
But prosecutors refused to believe her. The Sun campaigned for Laura - flying in a dossier of supporting evidence that included identity documents for Omar, the couple's marriage certificate and his medical records and X-rays.
The Egyptian authorities dropped smuggling charges but still prosecuted Laura for possession. She was jailed on Boxing Day 2017.
As the verdict was announced she collapsed in the dock and sobbed: "I can't do three years here."
During an appeal, evidence was submitted which showed she could not have known the Tramadol tablets were illegal.
The Foreign Office admitted its travel advisory was not updated until after her arrest and the tour operator she booked through said it had issued no warnings. Laura still lost her appeal.
On lawyers' advice she dropped plans for a further appeal and began the process of applying for a presidential pardon.
The prison is understood to have backed her release.
A police spokesman said yesterday: "It is all finished. The paperwork is here and she will be allowed to go. But she must leave Egypt immediately."
LAURA'S NIGHTMARE IS OVER
Laura's sister Jayne Synclair, 41, said: "Obviously we're delighted. We've been told she's got to be deported but she won't be banned from returning to Egypt.
"It's bittersweet for Laura. She loves Omar and will get to spend only a few moments with him before she's put on a plane.
"He's really upset. Despite everything people have said they love each other and their love has survived this awful ordeal."
Mum Roberta said: "We just want this to end. We're excited to get Laura home but devastated for Omar who has supported her throughout and visited her.
"For me, as her mum, it'll just be nice to bring her home." Laura was arrested moments after she flew into Hurghada on 9 October 2017.
Customs officers found the 290 Tramadol pills sitting at the top of her case. They were not hidden or in any way concealed. Laura said she had been given the pills by a workmate.
In her last message home before being led away from the airport, she texted her dad Neville: "I'm in trouble and I need your help."
Neville, 72, tried to reply but her phone was off.