Court postponements for Hull woman held in Egypt for drug smuggling

A woman from Hull who is accused of smuggling drugs was today due to be transferred to a second jail in Egypt after her case was committed to the criminal courts.

Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada airport on October 9.
Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada airport on October 9.

Laura Plummer, 33, has already been held in custody for more than a month after £23 worth of strong painkillers were found in her luggage at Hurghada airport on the Red Sea coast.

The painkillers, just under 300 tablets of the opiate Tramadol, were for the use of her Egyptian partner, Omar Caboo, who has a bad back.

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A court hearing had been scheduled twice in Hurghada for this weekend, but both have been postponed and Ms Plummer was today awaiting transfer to a jail 70km away in Safaga, where her case is expected to be opened with a preliminary hearing later this week, her local MP Karl Turner told The Yorkshire Post.

The postponed hearings have scuppered the opportunity for her legal representative to apply for bail.

Mr Turner said: “Laura is currently languishing in a police station number one in Hurghada awaiting to be transferred to prison in Safaga. That’s going to be any time, but it will only be for a preliminary hearing awaiting the case to go to court.

“People tend to be awaiting trial for some time in Egypt.

“The reason it has been committed to court in Safaga is because a senior prosecutor decided the matter needs to be dealt with by this particular criminal court.

“The case has been listed for a further preliminary hearing which, I’ve been told by members of the family, that there is a hearing on Tuesday.”

Ms Plummer, who works in a shop at the Princes Quay shopping centre in Hull, was being held in “pretty basic” conditions, Mr Turner said.

“She is sharing a cell with 25 other women who can’t speak English. She receives one meal per day. Her welfare is being taken care of but she is not very well at all.”

He said Mr Caboo has now provided evidence which proves he has a bad back, and therefore confirms that Ms Plummer was bringing the medication to Egypt for him.

“The only good news is Omar, Laura’s partner, has now come forward with medical evidence that confirms he suffers from back pain from a road traffic incident two years ago.

“He has medical evidence from a medical practitioner as well as a statement from a consultant confirming he has a severe back problem.

“In my view, it’s mitigation only. By virtue of the fact she has 290 tablets of Tramadol in her bag, she is guilty of trafficking drugs into Egypt. As a result she will be punished by the Egyptian judiciary.”

The MP attested to Ms Plummer’s good character and said she had acted with no criminal intent by taking the drugs into the country.

“She’s naive and wouldn’t know Tramadol from Panadol. She is a 33-year-old from Hull of good character with no previous convictions up to now, nothing so much as a parking ticket.”

On how Ms Plummer’s family were coping with the situation, Mr Turner said: “The family are very anxious and extremely worried about her mental health and physical well being.

“Her mum’s only opportunity to see her is on a Thursday but clearly there is a financial consequence to visiting each week. Flights are not cheap out of season to Egypt and I understand it is costing Neville (her father) an awful lot of money but he is desperate to get his daughter back.”
He added: “We don’t know when the case is likely to conclude.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said its officials were “supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in Egypt”.