A British woman has been convicted of smuggling 300 painkiller tablets into Egypt and jailed for three years.
Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested after she was found with the Tramadol tablets in her suitcase, on 9 October.
Uh huh. Why on earth would Ms Plummer be trying to smuggle 300 Tramadols into a hell-hole like Egypt, I wonder...?
Plummer, from Hull, claimed the painkiller, legal on prescription in the UK but banned in Egypt, was to treat her Egyptian partner's back pain.
Her family said her lawyers had lodged an appeal. Plummer previously said she had "no idea" the tablets were illegal.
As it happens, I had no idea that Tramadol was banned in Egypt; but, hang on—Tramadol is pretty strong stuff, right? In fact, it is an opioid that can cause some pretty bloody side effects, as well as opioid dependency. As it happens, this is the very reason that Tramadol, and many other opioid analgesics, have been banned in Egypt (and other countries).
Gosh. But it's legal in the UK—how lax are we...?
Well, when the article describes this drug as "legal" in the UK, it does qualify that with "on prescription".
It is a class C drug and is only available in the UK with a prescription from a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.
As a class C drug, it is illegal for anyone else to supply Tramadol, to have it or to give it away, even to friends.
Uh huh. So, when the Beeb says that Tramadol is "legal on prescription", what it actually means is 'in the UK, Tramadol is illegal to possess or supply unless via a prescription issued by a medical professional.'
In other words, as a class C drug, Tramadol is not legal in the UK—except in that one very specific circumstance.
And Ms Plummer somehow managed to get hold of 300 of these Tramadol tablets—how? Did she go along to her doctor and pretend that she had pain back enough to warrant their prescription? Because that would, of course, be fraudulent (and illegal).
Or did she gain them from some other source? Where did Laura Plummer obtain 300 tablets of a class C controlled substance—a substance that is illegal to possess, and most certainly illegal to sell or give away? It's not as though she stumbled on a party-pack in Boots now, is it?
Perhaps she encouraged a whip-round from family and friends (also illegal)?
I put it to you, m'lud, that Laura Plummer knew that Tramadol was a controlled substance since she would have had to go to some lengths to obtain 300 tablets of the bloody stuff.
And, as such, might have had some inkling that maybe, just maybe, trying to smuggle 300 tablets of a substance controlled in the UK into an unstable but socially strict place like Egypt might not be the best idea.
The family has previously said Plummer had no idea that what she was doing was illegal and was just "daft".
She may well be "daft" for trying to smuggle drugs into a third-world hell-hole, but I really don't think that she was innocent. Did Ms Plummer not even ask her beau why he couldn't get suitable painkillers in his native country?
According to Ms Plummer's sister, Jayne Synclair (relation), the Egyptian boyfriend "did not even know she was bringing them."
Riiiight. Of course. The wonderfully-named Omar Caboo had absolutely no idea, did he? He hadn't got an earthly that his "girlfriend" might try to smuggle a bunch of opioid drugs into a country with something of an opioid addiction problem. Definitely not.
As I said above, idiot is idiot.*
UPDATE: the UK government's Ask Frank website outlines the legal issues if you are caught with Tramadol in the UK [emphasis mine—Ed]:
If the Police arrest you in possession of tramadol unlawfully, they'll always take some action. This could be a formal caution or arrest and possible conviction.The three years imprisonment that the Egyptian legal system doled out to Ms Plummer isn't starting to look so bad, is it...?
Having tramadol that is not prescribed for you for your own use (called illegal possession) could result in up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. While selling or giving tramadol away for free, even to friends (called supplying) could result in up to fourteen years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
* See, also, Tim Newman's amusing digression on the subject of gullible white women and their attraction to swarthy Middle Eastern men.