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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

British woman accused of drug smuggling into Egypt jailed for three years

Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested in October for taking nearly 300 tramadol tablets into the country

The Red Sea in Hurghada, a popular Egyptian resort where Laura Plummer was planning on spending two weeks on holiday with her partner Omar. AP / Hassan Ammar
The Red Sea in Hurghada, a popular Egyptian resort where Laura Plummer was planning on spending two weeks on holiday with her partner Omar. AP / Hassan Ammar

A British woman accused of attempting to smuggle hundreds of banned painkillers into Egypt has been sentenced to three years in jail.

The woman, 33-year-old Laura Plummer from Hull, northern England, was arrested in October at Hurghada airport, in the Red Sea area, after she was found to be carrying 290 tramadol tablets in her suitcase.

On Monday, Ms Plummer’s trial was adjourned as she broke down in tears in the dock after accidentally pleading guilty due to a translation mix-up.

The trial was rescheduled with a new interpreter on Tuesday, where a judge handed her three years in prison.

Her family said her lawyers have lodged an immediate appeal.

Ms Plummer had insisted that the tramadol tablets were for her Egyptian partner, Omar Abdel Aziz, known as “Caboo”, 31, who suffers from chronic back pain.

Tramadol is legal in Britain on prescription, but illegal in Egypt where it is known to be used as a heroin substitute.

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Ms Plummer had flown into Hurghada for a two-week holiday with Mr Aziz.

She was held at the airport on October 9 on suspicion of what Egyptian authorities consider drug trafficking.

After being detained, Ms Plummer signed her name beneath a 38-page statement in Arabic, believing that she would then be able to leave. Since then, however, she has been held in jail.

She claimed she had “no idea” the drugs were banned in the country.

Her local member of parliament in the UK, Karl Turner, said her family described Ms Plummer as “very naïve”.

"Her father said to me 'look, the truth is she wouldn't know tramadol from a panadol. She wouldn't have a clue that she was doing something unlawful'," Mr Turner said.

Ms Plummer, a shop worker, met Mr Aziz four years ago and flew to Egypt four times a year to visit him.

Her father, Nevile Plummer, said his daughter's hair had started falling out due to stress.

“I don’t think she’s tough enough to survive it,” he said.

"They [her mother and sisters] say she’s unrecognisable”, he added. “When they've seen her, she’s like a zombie.”

Ms Plummer's mother, Roberta Sinclair, travelled to Egypt for the hearings.

There had been concerns that she could face up to 25 years in jail, or even the death penalty.