Cassandra Sainsbury, the 22-year-old woman currently in a jail in Bogota, Colombia for attempting to smuggle nearly 6kg of cocaine out of the country, has given an interview to 60 Minutes and it is… really something.
In the lengthy interview, conducted in a meeting room inside El Buen Pastor women’s prison, Sainsbury tells reporter Liam Bartlett that she was coerced into smuggling the drugs by a mysterious man named Angelo.
She says that she initially flew to Colombia under the belief that she would be transporting documents. When it emerged that she’d instead be carrying cocaine in her suitcase, she says she attempted to leave the country. Angelo, her contact in Colombia, stopped her by telling her that he’d have her sister, mother and partner killed if she refused to cooperate.
Crucially, she says that he sent her pictures of her family members going about their business in Adelaide, proving that he had people working for him there who could carry out his threats:
I received a photo of Scott and a friend leaving the gym. I received a photo of my sister getting her youngest kid out of the car. I received a photo of my mum getting out of the car. And that hit home quite hard.
The fact that I received photos of them while they’re doing normal activities in Adelaide – that for me said they weren’t safe.
Considering that she missed out on a plea deal that would likely have seen her released from prison in about two years, Sainsbury’s whole case rests on this being true – that she was coerced into being a drug mule by a man threatening to hurt her family. If her defence fails, she’s facing 21 years and 4 months in Colombian jail.
Which is why it’s so absolutely nuts that she’s saying that she can’t provide evidence of Angelo’s threats, like the pictures and messages sent via WhatsApp, because she’s forgotten the password to her phone.
Her reason for this is that she’s been in a Colombian prison for five months. In fact, she told an incredulous Bartlett, “I’m sure if you were in prison for five months you would forget it.”
In her defence, I know a bloke who forgot his pin number after six months out of the country, so maybe it’s true. She’s been through a lot of trauma and she’s been away from her phone for five months – it’s possible that she forgot the unlock pattern (it’s an Android phone, not an iPhone).
It’s also highly likely that her lawyers, or the prosecution, will be able to crack the phone, access the WhatsApp messages, and see once and for all exactly what went down between Sainsbury and Angelo.
The interview is a wild ride, covering all the allegations that have dogged Sainsbury since her arrest in April, including that she was a FIFO sex worker and that she stole money from a local organisation she worked for. Check it out here and here.
Cassie Sainsbury will appear in Colombian court again this week.