Relatives of the former Lenzie Academy pupil say they have been “devastated” by Melissa’s ongoing ordeal, but buoyed by offers of help and messages of comfort.
Melissa (20) was arrested last month after allegedly trying to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru with co-accused Michaela McCollum.
The pair insist they were coerced and threatened into carrying the drugs in their cases and their families are behind them.
Melissa’s aunt, Bernadette Gormal, has set up a Facebook page to allow people to voice their support – and more than 3,100 have ‘liked’ it.
Bernadette said: “We have a feeling of helplessness. You just want to do something.
“We’ve just tried to do our best by her. We’ve been inundated. A lot of people want to help in some way.
“The private messages I’m getting worldwide really have been lovely.
“I wrote her a letter and I’ve copied some of the messages so that she knows as well that people are thinking about her and not everybody is judging her.”
She added: “It’s helping the family. We’re devastated at what’s happened. Sometimes you really feel like your floundering. This isn’t a fictional drama for us – this is real life. We can’t switch off.”
Bernadette is co-ordinating a letter-writing campaign aimed at getting court proceedings held as soon as possible and also making sure the girls are not transferred from the Virgen de Fatima Prison.
Melissa’s parents – William and Debra – have been under siege at their Lenzie home since news of her arrest broke.
However, Bernadette said: “Melissa has a great bunch of friends – she’s a very popular girl. They’ve been going up to see William and Debra.”
Melissa has a brother, Liam, and twin sisters, Stephanie and Jennifer.
She celebrated her 20th birthday on August 16 in detention, where she has received medical treatment for severe insect bites and endured freezing showers.
Nevertheless, Bernadette said: “Melissa seems to be quite good – she’s young and resilient.
“She’s a young girl with her whole life ahead of her.
“Melissa didn’t ask for this, she didn’t do it willingly. It’s very sad.”
She said Melissa would miss many milestones while she was imprisoned, including her brother’s wedding.
The family – who live in Kirkintilloch and Lenzie – hope she will plead guilty as part of a ‘plea bargaining’ agreement, be given a relatively short sentence and transferred back to Scotland to serve it.
Peru has an inquisitorial legal system where lawyers have a lesser role in carrying out investigations on behalf of their clients.
To obtain a copy of the letters for the Peruvian authorities, e-mail [email protected]
A support night for Melissa will be held in Kirkintilloch Miners’ Welfare on Friday, September 27, including a disco, buffet and raffle.
The family are not appealing for funds, but any donations will be used to pay for legal fees and travel costs.
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