Accused drug mule Cassie Sainsbury wants Australian taxpayers to help cover her legal defence costs,.
The 22-year-old from South Australia is being held in Bogota, Colombia, after being arrested on April 11 at the airport. She was found with almost 6 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside sets of headphones and has been charged with cocaine possession, but has insisted that she was tricked into carrying the drugs.
Now, her lawyers have told The Daily Telegraph that they have applied for financial assistance from the Australian government to cover the fees for lawyers acting for her in Australia. The newspaper reported that the federal government does offer financial assistance to Australians in trouble overseas, through the Serious Overseas Criminal Matters Scheme that’s administered by the Attorney General’s department.
The Daily Telegraph said that the loans are available to people arrested overseas if they face more than 20 years in prison or the death penalty; Sainsbury reportedly faces a maximum sentence of 25 years, but could serve as little as four if she chooses to plead guilty.
Sainsbury’s lawyers have also raised the possibility that Australia could arrange for her to serve her sentence in Australia if she is convicted, 9 News has reported.
The young Australian’s sister Khala started an online fundraising campaign to raise cash for her defence.
On the fundrazr.com page, Khala says that “Cassie would never do anything like what she has been accused off [sic]”, adding that Sainsbury faces little chance of proving her innocence “in such a corrupt country”.
Khala says the family now faces expensive legal fees but have little money. The page has so far raised just over $4,000 of its $15,000 goal, from 105 contributors, but people reportedly used the page to write that they were sceptical of Sainsbury’s claims of innocence.
The Daily Mail reported last week that the young South Australian had travelled to Vanuatu, China, Canada and the US in the six months prior to her arrest. She reportedly wrote on Instagram that she was on work trips, which her family said was related to promoting her personal training business. Her fiance Scott Bainbridge said, however, that Sainsbury was working for a cleaning company and had not worked as a personal trainer for the past six months.
“She helped manage a commercial cleaning business that had both national and international clients. Unfortunately it’s very easy for tourists to get targeted, especially in Colombia,” Broadbridge wrote on her fundraising page.