Australian drug smuggler known as ‘Cocaine Cassie’ has walked free from a Colombian prison after spending three years behind bars.
The infamous inmate, whose real name is Cassie Sainsbury, was locked up at El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Bogota after being found guilty of trying to smuggle 6kg of cocaine out of Colombia in April 2017.
She was released on parole early Friday morning after President Ivan Duque signed a decree to release about 4,000 prisoners due to concerns of overcrowding in prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new measures, prisoners who have sentences of up to five years and who have completed 40 per cent of their sentences were released.
The former personal trainer from Adelaide will have to stay in Colombia for another 27 months as part of her parole conditions.
Cassie Sainsbury was arrested with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine (pictured) concealed in her luggage at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport in April 2017
She was released from prison on Friday after serving three years behind bars (Pictured with partner Joli)
The Colombian government made drastic changes to its prison system to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
Part of the measures will see prisoners who are pregnant, disabled or over age 60, women prisoners with children under age three, and those with cancer, diabetes or cardiac problems released into home detention for six months.
Speaking from what appears to be a hotel room, Sainsbury told 60minutes said she learned a lot while behind bars.
‘I’ve grown up a lot. I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about people, I’ve learned how to analyse people better.
‘I’ve learned not to trust people so much.
‘It’s been definitely a massive learning curve but, at the same time, everything that I’ve been through in prison, everything that I learnt I wouldn’t change it because it’s made me a stronger person it’s made me who I am today.’
The former personal trainer from Adelaide (pictured with her partner Joli) will have to stay in Colombia for another 27 months as part of her parole conditions
Sainsbury (pictured in 2017) says she has grown a lot during her time behind bars
The infamous inmate was locked up at El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Bogota (pictured) after being found guilty of trying to smuggle 6kg of cocaine out of Colombia in April 2017
Sainsbury was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of trying to smuggle 6kg of cocaine out of Colombia in April 2017.
The 24-year-old was due to begin her parole process last year after serving three-fifths of her sentence, taking into account a seven-month reduction in her sentence for good behaviour.
However, a high profile prison break, a food poisoning outbreak and allegations of corruption led to El Buen Pastor’s chief being stood down – delaying her hearings.
At the time of her conviction, she was engaged to 25-year-old Scott Broadbridge, but she admitted the two no longer speak after their split in February 2018.
Cassie Sainsbury has undergone an incredible transformation in prison, she said she has learned a lot
Cassie Sainsbury’s lawyer says she missed her mother Lisa Evans (pictured left with Cassie)
Sainsbury was engaged to Scott Broadbridge at the time of her conviction, but no longer speaks to her former fiance after they split in February 2018
She became engaged in November after her Venezuelan girlfriend Joli proposed to her behind bars.
‘She stole my heart. We are very happy together and if time allows us, we will be with each other for many years,’ she told New Idea.
The former personal trainer revealed her now fiancee surprised her with a ring and banner reading: ‘Cassie, will you marry me?’ in the corridor of the prison after playing a game of soccer.
‘A huge amount of people were watching me! She doesn’t speak English, she was trying to learn English to propose. It was quite cute! I said yes, of course,’ she told the magazine.
Sainsbury became engaged in November after her Venezuelan girlfriend Joli (pictured together) proposed to her behind bars
Joli, who is serving time for theft, proposed to the 24-year-old and shared photos of their engagement rings on social media
Over the past three years, Sainsbury has learned to speak Spanish fluently and now teaches English to inmates in the prison, she said.
The pair plan to tie the knot in the beautiful coastal city of Cartagena some time this year after they are both released.
The romance has been well-documented on social media, with Joli frequently sharing photos of the happy couple on Facebook.
‘Our first Colombian Valentine’s Day together and five months by your side, my princess Rapunzel. Love you Cassie,’ she wrote in one post.
In another Facebook post, she updated her friends of her wedding plans with a status saying: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m getting married.’
A TIMELINE OF THE COCAINE CASSIE CASE:
April 2017: Cassie Sainsbury, 22, is arrested at Bogota’s El Dorado international airport trying to smuggle 5.8 kilograms of cocaine inside 18 separate packages of headphones.
November 2017: Sainsbury is sentenced to six years in a Colombian prison for trafficking cocaine.
February 2018: Sainsbury splits from her Adelaide-based fiance Scott Broadbridge.
During this time Sainsbury begins studying Spanish, taking classes from volunteer groups and teaches English for two hours each day while behind bars
2019: Sainsbury’s parole process is due to begin, however, her hearing is delayed due to a high profile prison break, a food poisoning outbreak and allegations of corruption.
December 2019: Sainsbury reveals she is in a relationship with a fellow prisoner, a woman named Joli.
April 2020: Sainsbury is suddenly released on parole after the president signs a decree releasing 4,000 prisoners over concerns of overcrowding in prisons during the coronavirus outbreak.
She must spend 27 months in Colombia as part of her parole conditions.