Adelaide woman caught with cocaine in Colombia
AN Adelaide woman faces up to 25 years in a Colombian prison after she was caught with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine in her suitcase, but the CFS volunteer is innocent, her family says.
Cassandra Sainsbury, a 22-year-old personal trainer from Moana, was arrested on drugs trafficking charges at El Dorado International Airport, in Bogotá, on April 11, just minutes before she was due to board a plane back to Australia.
Cassie Sainsbury is in Colombia's largest women's prison after being arrested at the airport over cocaine.
She is now being held at Colombia's largest women's prison - El Buen Pastor - while she waits for trial, which could take up to two months, her family says.
Ms Sainsbury was visiting Colombia on a working holiday and departed Australia on April 3. Her older sister, Khala, was due to pick her up from Adelaide Airport on Easter Saturday but woke to a "horror story" Good Friday morning.
"They X-rayed her luggage and they found 5.8kg of cocaine concealed in packaging which was meant to be gifts for people for her bridal party and family friends," Khala told The Advertiser.
"She's supposed to be getting married next year and (the cocaine) was all concealed in the packaging of headphones she bought."
The Advertiser understands the 5.8kg of cocaine was divided across more than 15 pairs of headphones that Ms Sainsbury was given the morning of her flight home.
"She was with somebody she had met that could speak English and she was sightseeing, he was showing her around," Khala said.
"She came across some headphones that she was going to buy and pass out to everybody and he told her he knew a guy that could get them cheaper.
"She did that and got them handed to her Wednesday morning before she left, she just put them straight into her suitcase.
"There are just no words. Cassie is an honest girl, she wouldn't do something like this in a million years.
"It's like you're watching a horror movie and you're not waking up."
A Colombian lawyer has advised the family to consider a guilty plea to avoid a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but communications have been difficult because of language barriers.
"He's (the lawyer) hoping to downgrade the charges to the minimum if she pleads guilty but she is seeking advice from a different lawyer and the possibilities could be different," Khala said.
"It's so hard - myself and mum just can't up and leave, I've got four kids and flights are so expensive without even looking at accommodation.
"We'd love to have a representative from Australia but we're struggling to find money for the lawyer as it is."
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing assistance to an Australian woman arrested in Colombia, and "in accordance with the Consular Services Charter. Due to our privacy obligations, we are unable to release further information".
With legal costs soaring by the day Ms Sainsbury's family have turned to a fundraising website to help ease the financial strain, aiming to raise $15,000 on FundRazr.
On the site Lisa Evans, Ms Sainsbury's mother, said she was "scared to death" for her daughter.
"As her mother I'm devastated that my little girl is in this place," the post said.
Originally published as Aussie caught with 5.8kg cocaine