- Laura Plummer, a shop assistant from Hull, was detained in Egypt in October
- She was sentenced to three years last month for carrying pills into the country
- Now, it has emerged her boyfriend lost his job after being caught with drugs
- Omar Saad was sharing a room with five other workers in Sharm el Sheikh in 2015 when the stash of hashish was found
Published: 12:40 EST, 2 January 2018 | Updated: 12:47 EST, 2 January 2018
The boyfriend of a British woman jailed in Egypt for smuggling painkillers was once sacked from his job as a hotel lifeguard after cannabis was found in a hotel room he was sharing with five other workers.
Laura Plummer, a shop assistant from Hull, was detained after arriving at the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in October with 290 Tramadol pills in her luggage, which her boyfriend Omar Saad revealed was for his bad back.
Now, it has emerged that 33-year-old Saad was sacked from his job in 2015 after a stash of hashish was found in a room he shared with five workers at the Hilton Sharks Bay Resort in Sharm el Sheikh.
All six workers were sacked, but Mr Saad has maintained the drug had nothing to do with him and he wasn't aware that it was in the room, the Sun Online reports.
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Laura Plummer's boyfriend Omar Saad (pictured together) was once sacked from his job as a hotel lifeguard after cannabis was found in a hotel room he shared with five others
Miss Plummer's Roberta Synclair, 64, said that the police officers 'have been so nice' after she visited her daughter, who is waiting for a prison transfer
Miss Plummer's family have said they believe Mr Saad had nothing to do with the drugs, but are concerned the revelations could hurt their bid to have her freed.
Her sister Jayne Synclair told the Sun Online: 'Omar says it was nothing to do with him and we believe him.'
She added: 'He's more worried about the effect this will have on Laura's case. He's beside himself with worry.
'There will, I'm sure, be some who will want to draw conclusions from this but we know Omar and we know Laura and the truth will out.'
Miss Synclair added that background checks have shown that Mr Saad has never been in trouble with the police before.
Miss Plummer is currently being held at a police station holding room in Hugharda after being told there was no room for her at the notorious Qena prison.
Her mother, Roberta Synclair, 64, said that the police officers 'have been so nice' after she visited Miss Plummer, who is waiting for a prison transfer.
'Some said, 'You shouldn't be here, you are innocent',' Miss Synclair told The Sun. 'I'm so worried. She keeps saying she can't go on.'
Miss Plummer has to wait 60 days before she can file an appeal for the conviction.
Her family now been told that the appeal could take a further ten months to be heard after it's filed.
Miss Plummer's sister, Rachel Plummer, 31, said they are not pinning much hope on an appeal but added: 'If she can cope the last three months she will do this – she's stronger then we think. I'm just scared for her – I'm so sorry for her.
'It kills me that we can't do anything to help her and she's on my mind every second.
Miss Plummer's sister Rachel (right, with sister Jayne and mother Roberta), has said that the family could face a year wait for the appeal process to go through
'I hate waking up in a morning to feel the way I feel again – it's horrible feeling so helpless not knowing what my sister is going through every day.'
Miss Plummer hopes she can serve her three-year sentence at a safe jail close to the British Embassy, but it is believed she will be sent to the notorious al-Qanater prison in Cairo.
Her mother visited her at the police station on Thursday.
Rachel Plummer said of the visit: 'She (Laura) was coping Ok – she's obviously frightened but she's Ok.
'The room she was in was better then the previous well and the police very good with Laura and my mum – very professional.
'It was fine – there was a bed and Laura had a blanket and a cushion that we had brought her on a previous trip.
'Mum took her plenty of food but her husband Omar will take her food and our lawyer will. Mum is distraught and heartbroken but if Laura can cope she can cope – Laura's strength gives my mum and all of us strength.
Miss Plummer has been sentenced to three years for smuggling Tramadol tablets, which are legal in the UK but banned in Egypt, into the country in her suitcase
The notorious Qena Prison, where Laura was initially held before she was moved to a police station in Hurghada due to a lack of room
'We say we are living a nightmare but it will be nothing compared to Laura's nightmare. But my mum could see Laura was coping Ok she just wants to get her head down and do her time and get it over with now.
'The sooner it's done the sooner she can come home and get back to work which is all Laura wants – to be back to normality.'
Miss Plummer's boyfriend, Omar Abdul Azim, 31, a lifeguard, told the Mirror: 'You don't know how much I love her and how upset I am. My heart is broken.'
The couple met four years ago at the Hilton hotel in Sharks Bay, near Sharm el-Sheikh, where he was working as a lifeguard and Miss Plummer was on holiday.
Mr Azim was speaking as Plummer's Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Osman confirmed that she would be soon be sent to al-Qanater prison in Cairo.
Miss Plummer was taken to the notorious Qena prison on Wednesday but it was decided there was no room for her. She is now at a police station in Hurghada.
The news that she will be sent to the al-Qanater prison comes as a Briton jailed in Egypt for theft has revealed the 'horrendous' conditions inside the jail.
Pete Farmer, 45, served his time at the prison in al-Qanater which he says is rife with violence and disease.
Up to 30 people are crammed into each tiny cell, he said, and are forced to share a single shower while the toilet is just a hole in the ground.
Pete Farmer, 45, has revealed the conditions inside al-Qanater jail in Egypt where he believes fellow Briton Laura Plummer will be sent after she was jailed for smuggling painkillers (pictured left is Mr Farmer's overcrowded cell, while right is the shower the men shared)
He says disease was rife, with up to 30 people crammed into each cell sharing a single shower and toilet which was little more than a hole in the ground
Mr Farmer was jailed for two years for theft, claiming he picked up the wrong bag in a club where he was DJing by mistake
The DJ – who had worked in Sharm El Sheikh for 11 years – was released in November.
Photographs he took on a smuggled phone show the cramped cells, dirty toilets and the tiny window.
Speaking from Essex, where he is staying with family, Pete said: 'No one deserves that sort of punishment.
'I'm a man and I just got through my sentence. For her as a woman – my heart bleeds for her.
'The conditions are absolutely horrendous. Disease is rife, there are cockroaches and lice and bedbugs.
'It is very, very violent. I can recall being in a line and seeing people being beaten and burned on their private parts with cattle prods.
'In my cell there were four sets of bunk beds, each three levels high – so that's 12 people – with another 15 to 18 on the floor.
'Egypt is a beautiful country but it is the levels of corruption which are disgusting.'
Miss Plummer's father, Neville, has already spent £40,000 of his pension so he and his family can visit and help her with the appeal.
Her sister, Rachel, 31, said it could take a year for Miss Plummer's case to be heard.
Miss Plummer's boyfriend previously admitted that he felt responsible for her plight because she was bringing pills for him.
Mr Azim said: 'I'm the reason for what happened because she brought this especially for me.'
The prison was in a bad state of disrepair, he said (left), while the cell had only a single small window giving contact with the outside world
He said the food was fly-infested, and left out all day in the sun. During his time inside he dropped about a stone in weight
Left is a light that Mr Farmer constructed out of a Pringles can, while right he is pictured on his bunk inside jail
Speaking to the Mail from his home in Beni Suef near Cairo, Mr Azim, said: '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 that he is campaigning for her release and is looking for a 'better lawyer' to help.
Two years ago Miss Plummer and Mr Azim had an Orfi marriage, which is not registered with the state but allows them to share a hotel room.
He considers her his wife. Polygamy is legal for men in Egypt and Mr Azim has another wife, who Miss Plummer has met.
Mr Azim said of Miss Plummer: 'She's my wife and I love her. I have been depressed. I was wordless [at the court verdict].'
Miss Plummer's sister Rachel, said the family was 'so disappointed' that she was sentenced on Boxing Day, instead of being allowed to return home.
She said: 'It's horrible – we've not had a Christmas because of it and we won't be celebrating New Year. We did the presents and put the tree up for this kids but the family didn't do presents for each other.
'My dad wished me a happy Christmas but then went on to say 'I know none of us are going to have a happy Christmas but it's the thing to say'. We just wanted Laura back – we said we'll celebrate when she comes home.'
Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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