Cassandra Sainsbury’s Colombia-based lawyer admits there’s no proof she was tricked into carrying drugs

By @chelean on
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

Cassandra Sainsbury’s own lawyer said there’s no proof that she was tricked in carrying the almost 6kg bags of cocaine. Colombian Orlando Herran said that while he believes her story, it’s difficult to prove that another person is involved in the case.

The 22-year-old Adelaide personal trainer was arrested on April 12 at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, days after the US Drug Enforcement Agency allegedly tipped off Colombian authorities of a possible drugs smuggling. Sainsbury was caught carrying 5.8kg of cocaine packed in 18 headphone boxes in her suitcase, which she claimed she knew nothing about.

According to her, she wanted to buy headphones for giveaway in her bridal party. A man who acted as her translated during her short trip to Colombia volunteered to buy them for her as he knew someone who could get them cheaper. She allegedly received the headphones on the morning of her scheduled departure. Her mother told the “Kyle & Jackie O” show on Monday that instead of checking each box, Sainsbury packed them into her suitcase and left.

Herran told 5AA radio in Adelaide that Sainsbury was tricked by the man she only by Angelo or Tom, who brought her the headphones at the airport. The lawyer said that he believes her story, but it would be hard to prove her excuse.

“He says that the grave problem is that at this point, we do not have any proof that she really was tricked or that this other person that she refers to exists or is guilty,” Herran said in Spanish, as translated by presenter David Penberthy. Sainsbury has not yet decided how she will plea.

“It is possible to do a deal with the Colombian DA so that the DA takes into consideration that she is young, never done anything wrong before, that what she’s accused of doing is not in her nature,” the lawyer said. “If the DA shows a bit of mercy, she could get a sentence as low as four years.”

If Sainsbury opted to plead guilty, Herran told the ABC that the case could be ruled on in 90 days and could result in “conditional liberty,” which could mean she could complete her parole in Colombia or possibly in Australia. The court could also allow them to request for house arrest for Sainsbury, who is currently jailed in the El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Bogota. However, since she does not live in the South American country and therefore does not have a home there, her legal team could have difficulty with that request.

“In that case, we would have to look for NGOs [non-government organisations] that could that on the responsibility of looking after Cassandra,” he said. They are hoping to have her sentence reduced to four years instead of the maximum 20 years.

Sainsbury, Yorketown residents told The Australian, owed tens of thousands in rent after suddenly closing her personal training business, York’e Fitness, in 2015 and left. Former indoor football players Taylor Wallace and Lauren Parker said Sainsbury operated her business for about one and a half years before she closed it down around the same time she ended a relationship with a boyfriend.

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