News World ‘Cocaine Cassie’ walks free from jail
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‘Cocaine Cassie’ walks free from jail

Cassie Sainsbury
Cassie Sainsbury served three years of a six-year sentence. Photo: AAP
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Convicted Australian drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury has been reportedly released from a Colombian prison.

The 22-year-old was serving a six-year term after being caught with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside 18 headphone boxes as she tried to leave Bogota’s airport in April 2017.

Originally facing up to 30 years locked up in the Colombian capital of Bogota, Sainsbury later negotiated a reduced sentence with a plea deal.

She was sentenced in November that year.

She had claimed she landed in trouble in Colombia after thinking she had accepted a job as a legitimate courier transporting documents for $10,000 plus flights, but plans changed at the last minute.

cocaine cassie free jail
Sainsbury with nearly 6 kilograms of heroin at Bogota’s international airport. Photo: AAP

The former personal trainer from Adelaide said a “mastermind”, known as Angelo, threatened via WhatsApp to kill her mother, sister and fiance if she did not transport his drugs.

Sainsbury walked free from El Buen Pastor women’s prison on Friday after spending three years behind bars.

Her release followed orders on Wednesday from Colombian President Ivan Duque for the “humanitarian” release of more than 4000 prisoners to house arrest. The move is to reduce overcrowding and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Agence France-Presse reported that two prisoners have died from COVID-19 in the South American country.

Sainsbury’s former Australian lawyer Stephen Kenny said after looking at reports from Colombia, the majority of released prisoners would return to jail after six months.

However, some well-behaved prisoners could remain on home detention, he said.

“Usually, in Australia, to be granted parole you have to have a place to live,” Mr Kenny said.

“Obviously, she’s found somewhere … but it would be a question of who’s paying the cost of that, particularly if she is on parole, and what the conditions are.”

As part of her parole conditions, Sainsbury must remain in Colombia for another 27 months, according to Nine News.

She said the experience made her grow as a person and she learnt a lot about herself.

“I learned a lot about people, I’ve learned how to analyse people better,” she said in a 60 Minutes interview extract posted online by Nine News.

“I’ve learned not to trust people so much.

“It’s been definitely a massive learning curve but, at the same time, everything that I’ve been through in prison, everything that I learnt I wouldn’t change it because it’s made me a stronger person it’s made me who I am today.”

-with AAP