Cassandra Sainsbury
Cassandra Sainsbury, an Australian, is seen in handcuffs after she was arrested at the international airport in Bogota, Colombia, April 12, 2017. Picture Taken April 12, 2017. Colombian Police/Handout via Reuters

Australian taxpayers may have to be burdened with Cassandra Sainsbury’s legal fees in Colombia. The accused drug mule has requested federal government help, but some taxpayers don’t seem to be keen on the idea.

Her Bogota lawyer, Orlando Herran, said that Sainsbury is hoping her home country would be able to pay for her legal costs. “I saw her signed documents for her lawyer in Australia,” Herran was quoted by 7 News as saying in Bogota. “They are looking for state funds in Australia for the legal costs, so she was signing a form for that, to put before the government there.”

Herran added that he had no idea how much Sainsbury was asking for, but the money was to cover the lawyer’s fees in Australia. The 22-year-old personal trainer’s lawyer in Australia is Stephen Kenny.

Sainsbury can ask for financial help from the Attorney-General’s Department. Assistance is available for those arrested overseas and facing more than 20 years imprisonment or death penalty. The government can cover their legal defence of up to $290 per hour and counsel fees of up to $3,600 per day.

She is facing up to 25 years in prison, but there’s a chance she could be handed with six years if she pleads guilty, her lawyer said. It’s still unknown what plea she would take.

Based on social media reactions on her arrest, it appears that Australian taxpayers aren’t happy with paying for her legal defence. Sainsbury’s sister also previously set up a Fundraizr account for her legal fees. The page, which has since been taken down, has received overwhelmingly negative comments from people who did not believe her story. According to comments online, Sainsbury was probably really working as a drug mule because her alibi was just not that believable.

The young woman claimed she bought 18 pairs of headphones from a man who acted as her translator during her short stay in the South American country. She apparently did not check the boxes that were given to her the morning of her supposed departure. When her baggage was checked in the airport, authorities found 5.8kg of cocaine stuffed in the boxes. Sainsbury is currently staying at the El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Colombia.

According to a report, the US Drug Enforcement Agency tipped off their Colombian counterparts of a possible drugs smuggling after learning of Sainsbury’s last-minute plane ticket purchase in Hong Kong. The purchase was said to be a red flag for authorities.

Read more:
Cassandra Sainsbury’s Colombia-based lawyer admits there’s no proof she was tricked into carrying drugs
Cassandra Sainsbury’s last-minute plane ticket purchase in HK was red flag, US agents tipped off Colombia
Adelaide PT Cassie Sainsbury facing 25 years in Colombian prison for carrying 5.8kg cocaine