A British holidaymaker, who faces the death penalty in Egypt after carrying banned painkillers, has issued a desperate plea for help from her jail cell.
Laura Plummer, 33, is languishing in a prison cell in Egypt after being caught with the 290 Tramadol painkillers in her suitcase at Hurghada International Airport.
The shop assistant, from Hull, was visiting her 33-year-old partner Omar Caboo, a sports activity administrator at a 5-star hotel in Sharm El Sheikh who she met while on holiday in the country four years ago.
Last night, in a secret message from her cell, she begged for help and said she was scared.
It comes as her worried family revealed that she is struggling to cope in jail.
Laura Plummer (centre), pictured with her sisters Rachel Plummer and Jayne Synclair, is facing the death penalty in Egypt for carrying painkillers into the country
Ms Plummer brought the drugs for ‘husband’ Omar, who suffers from back problems. Her sister today claims the pair’s marriage ‘means nothing’ and Omar is already married
Laura Plummer, left, is being held by Egyptian authorities after taking tramadol into the country
She told The Sun: ‘Please help me get out of this hellhole.
‘I don’t know what’s happening. I’m scared. I had no idea that what I was doing was wrong. I thought I was doing a good deed.’
Her mother Roberta, and sisters Jayne Sinclair and Rachel appeared on ITV show This Morning today.
Ms Sinclair revealed the impact the time in Egyptian custody has had on her sister.
She said: ‘She’s unrecognisable she’s not the girl that left. Every hour of every day she doesn’t look the same. She looks vacant in her eyes and her hair is falling out.
‘We know she’s committed a crime but she doesn’t deserve how she’s been treated. There are no beds, that’s how their prison system is. She’s on a wet concrete floor.
‘It can’t get any worse than it already has. That’s why we’ve come to the press because we didn’t know where to turn. We didn’t want it to come to this. It’s so serious there.’
Her father, Neville Plummer, said: ‘Laura flew out on October 9, and the following day I got a text from her which said ‘Dad, please answer your phone, I am in trouble’.
‘I found out she had been arrested when they found the Tramadol in her luggage, but they were not even hidden – that is not the actions of a drug smuggler.
‘We are distraught, upset beyond words, and are terrified of the consequences that could happen to Laura.’
Laura Plummer, right, was held for five hours at the airport with no interpreter and could now face the death penalty
She is being kept in a 15ft by 15ft cell with 25 other women, with no air conditioning and a hole for a toilet, and has now been there for more than a month.
In trying to secure her release, her desperate family paid £10,000 to two ‘lawyers’ to represent her – but they were instead con-artists who ran off with the money after being paid.
Mr shared the messages he had received from the bogus lawyer.’The first message I got from him said ‘do not worry, I am now in the police station waiting for the officer in charge. I will contact you’,’ he said.
‘I said thank you, and he replied ‘what do you mean?’ – I thought that was a bit odd.
‘He then said I had to pay £5,000 to the court, and also partly to cover the fees for the office.’
Ms Plummer said the scammer managed to get into the police station in Egypt, where he met the ‘terrified’ woman and took £1,500 from her.
He then took £1,000 from Laura’s mum when she flew over to Egypt the following day, before duping Mr Plummer out of £7,500.
‘People have questioned why I was so stupid to do it, but I felt duty-bound to my daughter to do it,’ he said.
‘That’s all we had to cling onto, but unfortunately we were clinging onto a conman.
‘He could have asked for £20,000 or £30,000 and I would have paid it – I just want to get Laura home.’
Mr Plummer also revealed Laura had expressed suicidal thoughts since she had been in jail, and said she would ‘not survive’ prison if she was sentenced to custody.
‘She has always been the most scared of the family – she can’t handle any blood or horror,’ her father said.
‘I am afraid she is disappearing before our eyes – all her friends say she is just a darling to society.
‘From a family of eight, we are all good, honest people, but out of all of us she is the most honest of the lot.’
Mrs Plummer, left, could face 25 years in prison with no parole, life imprisonment or even the death penalty
While it had been reported that Ms Plummer and Mr Caboo were married, Ms Plummer’s sister Jayne Synclair, 40, has now claimed the couple signed a ‘document’ which allows them to sleep in an apartment together when they are in Egypt.
Their ‘marriage means nothing’, is not legally binding and Omar already has a Muslim wife, she said.
She told the Mirror: ‘Laura isn’t a secret. She has met Omar’s family and children. But he has a Muslim wife and they only signed documents in Egypt that allow them to live together when she goes to stay.
‘He doesn’t have a passport so can’t come to England.
‘I don’t know much about him but he likes to take her out when she’s there. Even though she’s 33, she had never had a boyfriend before Omar.’
It comes as Ms Plummer was apparently fleeced out of £10,000 by men posing as lawyers who said they can help free her.
Two men reportedly turned up at her cell offering help in return for the money. But the fraudster allegedly demanded £10,000 up front before dropping her case.
Ms Plummer is being held in a 15ft by 15ft cell with between 20 and 30 other women including ‘murderers, heroin addicts and prostitutes’ and was being ‘kicked and kicked’ until the leader of the cell intervened, her sister revealed.
Ms Plummer brought the medicine into the country to give to Omar, who suffers from severe back and arm pain after being in a car crash a few years ago.
The painkiller tramadol can be bought with a prescription in Britain, but is illegal in Egypt where it is a popular heroin substitute
But the drug, which is available in the UK on prescription, is banned in Egypt and sometimes used as a heroin substitute.
Ms Plummer has claimed she was forced to sign a 38-page Arabic confession before being locked in a tiny cell with dozens of other women.
Ms Synclair said her sister is ‘naive and child-like’ and ‘didn’t even check what the drugs were’.
Ms Plummer was arrested after flying in to a Red Sea beach resort for a break with Omar on October 9.
She claims she was recommended the pills – of which she was carrying 29 strips, each containing ten tablets which has a ‘street value’ of £23.20 – by a colleague when discussing Omar’s consistent pain.
Mrs Plummer was held for five hours at the airport with no interpreter.
She then signed a statement she believed would allow her to leave.
Drugs and the death penalty in Egypt
In Egypt capital punishment is carried out by hanging. The state carried out at least 44 executions last year.
Possession, use and trafficking illegal drugs can be punished with death.
Carrying small amounts can result in lengthy prison sentences of 25 years.
It is common for people convicted to life imprisonment in drugs cases to face life imprisonment with no chance of parole or pardon.
In 2015 Cairo Scene reported that tramadol was the ‘most abused drug in Egypt’. An anti-addiction hotline found that 40.7 per cent of drug users take the painkiller.
Ms Plummer is said to still be wearing the same clothes she flew out in and was handcuffed to a gun-wielding policeman when she first appeared in court. She is due to appear in the dock again on Thursday.
Her mother claimed she looked ‘dead behind the eyes’ and repeatedly begged for help as she faced judges.
Ms Plummer’s youngest sister, Rachel, 31, said: ‘Laura can’t cope another hour – let alone 20-plus years.
‘She’s in there with 25 non-speaking English women so you can imagine the loneliness yet being surrounded by so many people in a small space.
‘There are Egyptian women who are in there for what us British call proper drug related crimes like heroin and cocaine but they come and go yet she’s taken some painkillers across and is getting treated like it’s a million pound drug smuggle.’
She was stopped at the airport as she jetted in for a fortnight stay with Omar – who she sees four times per year.
The last text message sent by the shop keeper was to her father, Neville, and said: ‘I’m in trouble and I need your help.’
Ms Plummer’s brother, James, told BBC Radio 5 live his sister had brought the tablets into the country in an ‘innocent, honest mistake’.
He said shop assistant Ms Plummer had told a colleague about Omar’s back trouble and they told her she could get her painkillers from her GP.
He added: ‘They were prescribed to a friend of hers.’
Mr Plummer said his sister did not even check what kind of tablets they were.
Tramadol is prescription-only in the UK and a pill is worth 8pm, which means Mrs Plummer could have only made a maximum of £23.20 if she had intended to sell them.
Ms Plummer is due to make a third appearance in court on November 9 with a third lawyer.
The Foreign Office confirmed they are assisting a British national in Egypt.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, or see samaritans.org for details.