Why Cassie Sainsbury should stop playing the victim
ACCUSED drug mule Cassie Sainsbury has to stop playing "guilty in court but innocent in the media", a South American drug trade expert warns.
Rusty Young, author of best-selling book Marching Powder, told the Nine Network the 22-year-old personal trainer would not win any favours from Colombian authorities by speaking out about her troubles.
He also advised her to "keep quiet, learn Spanish and stay out of the headlines".
"Colombians hate international headlines in which their country is associated with cocaine," he told the Nine network.
"Every time Cassandra Sainsbury or a member of her family or even her lawyer speak to the press, that just reinvigorates the news cycle."
Last week, a Colombian judge said the possibility Ms Sainsbury was coerced into being a drug mule could mean she is innocent - and may void any plea deal with prosecutors.
Sainsbury's lawyers and prosecutors told the court they had negotiated a sentence of 72 months or six years' jail and a fine of 450 minimum monthly wages.
She had faced a maximum of 30 years and minimum of 21 years and four months - but the plea deal they agreed on reduced it to the minimum available.
Mr Young, who today released a new book Colombiano after living in Colombia for seven years, told Nine Sainsbury would do well to learn Spanish. He said not knowing the language could prove a stumbling block.
He also told Nine that several things pointed to Sainsbury being involved in an Australian or UK drug smuggling operation, rather a Colombian one. This would mean naming her dealers as part of a plea deal shouldn't put her in danger in prison, he said.
"It was such an unsophisticated means of concealment and she was actually up on the Colombian police radar before she even picked up the drugs. So that says to me that there was a network behind her back in Australia or the UK," he told Nine.
Judge Leon, who is hearing the case, told the Colombian court: "I have found a very complex development with this plea bargain."
He went on to say he had to uphold the principles of the court, which now included the possibility Cassie may be innocent.
Sainsbury earlier surprised the court when she said: "I didn't want to take a package with me. I was told my family and partner would be killed."
Judge Leon said he now needed more time to re-evaluate the evidence and terms of the plea bargain in light of this claim.
The next hearing will be on August 9.