Laura Plummer from Hull, East Yorkshire, is on the brink of flying home after being released in an ‘act of mercy’ but detectives warn their inquiries into who gave her the illegal drugs to carry abroad are ‘still active’
A British woman freed from a jail in Egypt faces a fresh ordeal when she returns home as UK police reveal they are continuing a probe into how she obtained prescription painkillers.
Laura Plummer from Hull, East Yorkshire, is on the brink of flying home after being released in an ‘act of mercy’ but UK detectives warn their inquiries into who gave her the illegal drugs to carry abroad are ‘still active’.
The shop worker was jailed for three years on Boxing Day for bringing 290 Tramadol tablets into the country but pardoned by president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The 33-year-old, jailed for taking illegal painkillers into Egypt, is being forced to wait longer as red tape delays her release.
Officers from Miss Plummer’s local force are investigating her work colleague Donna Irvin’s alleged involvement in handing over the Tramadol tablets. The tablets are available on prescription in Britain but banned from the African country.
A spokesperson for East Yorkshire Police told MailOnline: ‘We are trying to determine if a criminal act may have taken place.
‘We are still looking into the circumstances of how the prescription drugs came to be in her possession and if any further individual has committed any offences. This investigation is still ongoing.’
Laura’s family (pictured, including mother Roberta on the left) have repeatedly begged for clemency. Ms Plummer is on the cusp of being freed in an ‘act of mercy’ by the country’s president is being forced to wait longer as red tape delays her release
A source at the president’s office confirmed she is among those on a list of people being pardoned, but it is understood the paperwork approving her release did not arrive at the jail today.
It means the family, who agonisingly waited outside the prison in a minivan hoping to be reunited, continue to wait overnight after returning to their hotel, with the deadline for people being able to be freed having passed this afternoon.
Her lawyer Mohammed Osman went into the prison to assist but emerged without Miss Plummer.
Miss Plummer’s mother and siblings touched down in the Egyptian capital yesterday and Thursday after it emerged the president was poised to pardon her. It falls to the country’s Ministry of Interior to help arrange the release.
She is being held in Al-Qanatir prison on the outskirts of Cairo.
It has previously been described as ‘horrendous’ and ‘violent’ with reports of inmates being beaten and the jail being infested with fleas.
It sits next to a bridge over a fork in the River Nile in the suburb of Qanatir, north west of the city.
Ms Plummer’s family, who have described Laura (right) as ‘naive’, said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar (left), who suffers from severe back pain
She is said to have spoken to her family on the phone in recent days and saying: ‘I never thought this day would come. I’d given up hope.’
The 33-year-old has spent three months in at least three cells across the country after landing at the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, about 450km south east of Cairo, with 290 Tramadol pills in her luggage.
The potent painkiller is illegal in Egypt and she was sentenced to three years in jail on Boxing Day, triggering a desperate legal battle from her family.
An appeal hearing was due later this year in a bid to drastically reduce her sentence but a plea with Mr el-Sisi to use his power to pardon her was also lodged.
Sisters Jayne Sinclair and Rachel Plummer, brother Kirk and mother Roberta have all flown to the Egyptian capital.
Ms Plummer was first detained in October at Hurghada airport after security searched her luggage.
She was visiting her Egyptian boyfriend Omar Saad on holiday and told police she had brought the pills, which are legal in the UK on prescription but banned in Egypt, for Mr Saad because he suffers from a bad back after a car crash.
She initially faced the death penalty after prosecutors did not believe Mr Saad existed and thought she was a drug smuggler.
But evidence submitted supported her story and she was sentenced for possession of an illegal drug.
El-Sisi, who uses the ‘act of mercy’ power three or four times a year on national holidays or major dates in the Egyptian calendar, pardons hundreds of prisoners a year but rarely foreigners.
Ms Plummer and Mr Saad met around four years previously when she was on holiday at the Hilton Sharks Bay resort in Sharm El Sheikh, where Mr Saad was a lifeguard.
He has another wife and children in his home town of Beni Suef but has always insisted he sees Miss Plummer as his wife.
Ms Sinclair said the family have had no contact with Laura but have had an update from Omar which gave them small comfort. Pictured: Laura (right) with her two sisters
Last month he told the Mail he felt responsible for her plight, saying: ‘My heart is absolutely broken – I’m missing her so much.
‘I did not want her to violate her life and I had no idea she would bring tramadol – I would have told her “don’t bring it to Egypt”.’ “don’t bring it to Egypt”.’
Ms Plummer had been expected to be released later today and told The Sun: ‘I want to be with my family on the plane home. The last few hours have felt an eternity.’
The shop worker from added at the time: ‘It’s such torture knowing how close I am to being released that I dare not dream it will happen. You lose all hope in here – I just want it to be over.’
Ms Plummer, an assistant store manager at QUIZ clothing will also be buoyed by the news that her old job is still waiting for her.
A spokesperson for the store said: ‘Laura is a highly valued member of the QUIZ team and her job is held open for her to come back to.
‘We are a British fast fashion chain.’
Ms Plummer blames her shop assistant colleague Donna Irvin, who is currently on sick leave while recovering from back surgery, for providing her with the 290 Tramadol tablets.
She was jailed for three years on Boxing Day after carrying the painkillers, which are illegal in the African country, in her suitcase.
But Thursday was Revolution Day in Egypt – a national public holiday – when the country’s president can issue pardons to prisoners.
Ms Plummer was on an official list of names signed by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The pardon is understood to have been sent to the country’s interior ministry for publication.
Family members arrived in Egypt on the 5pm flight to Cairo Friday.
Upon hearing that she was due to be let out, Ms Plummer told family over the phone: ‘I never thought this day would come. I’d given up hope. It’s hard to believe and hasn’t sunk in yet.’
Ms Plummer’s family, who have described her as ‘naive’, said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar, who suffers from severe back pain.
Her sister, Jayne Synclair, has been praying the Egyptian president would use his authority to release Laura on the ‘day of mercy’.
President Sisi pardoned 203 prisoners in March 2017 and over 500 in June in a presidential decree. Pictured: Laura before her ordeal
Ms Synclair told The Sun: ‘We can’t believe it’s over. We’ve prayed for this day since she was arrested. We just want to get her home.’
President Sisi does not have the authority to interfere in Egypt’s judicial processes, but can issue pardons.
He has used this power on previous bank holidays to release a raft of prisoners.
Ms Synclair said: ‘We have a small hope. We are not building our hopes up but we put it through the press for him to consider.
‘He has previously said he won’t interfere in Laura’s case but we would love her to get pardoned.’
Pictured: Laura (left), her sisters and mother (right) enjoy a glass of wine in happier times
Her father Neville Plummer yesterday told the Mail, before her official release: ‘It’s more than a ray of hope now, things are looking positive.
‘It seems as though there will be an official announcement on Saturday or Sunday, it’ll be all over the TV screens.’
He added: ‘It’s been such a horrendous time for us since October so we are not going to take it for granted, we will believe it when we see it, but it’s now looking positive.
‘We just want her back home with the family so we can begin our lives again.’
President Sisi pardoned 203 prisoners in March 2017 and over 500 in June in a presidential decree.
Miss Plummer’s sister Jane, brother Kirk and mother Roberta, pictured left to right outside a Hilton Hotel
Sister Rachel Plummer said the family was preparing to fly out to the country as soon as confirmation was received.
Laura (pictured with boyfriend Omar) was reduced to tears during one visit after she was moved to a notorious prison in the country’s capital, Cairo
She said yesterday: ‘We’re just waiting and hoping. This is a small ray of hope.’
The country’s president authorises such pardons, which overrule judicial decisions, three or four times a year on major national holidays or major dates in the Egyptian calendar.
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution, a violent uprising which toppled then president Hosni Mubarak.
Clemency is often given to criminals who have served three-quarters or a considerable length of their sentence. But it can also be granted for imprisoned foreigners.
Ms Plummer is understood to be detained at Al-Qanatar women’s prison on the outskirts of Cairo.
Speaking to the Mail last month after Ms Plummer was jailed, her boyfriend, Omar Saad, said he felt responsible for her plight.
He told the Mail: ‘My heart is absolutely broken – I’m missing her so much.
‘I did not want her to violate her life and I had no idea she would bring Tramadol – I would have told her ‘don’t bring it to Egypt’.’
He added then that he was continuing to campaign for her release.
President Sisi pardoned 203 prisoners in March 2017 and over 500 in June in a presidential
The prison was in a bad state of disrepair and the cells only have a small window giving contact with the outside world
Ms Plummer has always maintained she did not know Tramadol was banned in the country. File photo