Convicted drug mule Cassie Sainsbury has credited diet and exercise for her incredible body transformation since being locked up in a Colombian prison.
The 24-year-old from Adelaide was caught trying to smuggle 5.8kg of cocaine out of Bogota inside headphone boxes in April 2017.
She was sentenced to six years but was released from El Buen Pastor women’s prison in April 2019, four years early.
When she was first jailed, Sainsbury was engaged to Scott Broadbridge, and claimed she thought the packages in her luggage were gifts for her wedding guests.
But the relationship deteriorated behind bars, and the former personal trainer and sex worker began dating a fellow inmate, 29-year-old Joli Pico from Venezuela.
She has previously credited Pico for helping her survive jail, and is living with her best friend, who she is believed to have met through her now-fiancee, until she is legally allowed to return home to Australia.
During an Instagram Live chat with her followers, Sainsbury said she was very happy in her relationship, but was counting down the days until she could leave Colombia.
‘I’ll be coming back to Adelaide in two years,’ she said. ‘I miss my family and the beaches.’
It is not clear if her fiancee would be granted entry to Australia, given her criminal history. She is believed to be serving a sentence for theft.
During her stint behind bars, Sainsbury said she was exposed to ‘the worst ways people treated each other.’
‘I’ve seen people stabbed hundreds of times,’ she said. ‘They had knives stuck into them. It’s absolutely horrible.’
The experience was eye opening for the 24-year-old, who said she was forced to ‘mature a lot in prison’.
‘There were a lot of people worse off than me… I learnt to value a lot of things,’ she said. ‘I learnt a lot about myself, I learnt a lot about people … I’ve learnt how to analyse people better.’
Sainsbury also underwent a complete body transformation during her time in jail, but didn’t give too much away regarding her slender new look.
‘Exercise and diet,’ she told a fan who asked about her weight loss. ‘That’s what you need to do.’
Since she left prison, the one time fly-in-fly-out sex worker said she had tried to turn her life around.
She said she held no ill-will toward Mr Broadbridge, though she was hurt to learn he’d given away her beloved dogs during her stint behind bars.
‘I loved my dogs, they were absolutely everything to me… I messaged him one day asking him how everything was and he told me he gave them away,’ she told her Instagram followers.
‘It was absolutely horrible… I couldn’t believe it.’
During the long days in prison, Sainsbury said she would count down until she could return to her ‘gorgeous’ huskies, Eevee and Bella, in Australia.
‘I’ve received a lot of horrible comments in the time since everything came out,’ Sainsbury said, speaking of her initial arrest.
‘Even up until this minute I receive horrible messages [and] I just have to ignore it.’
She said the contents of the messages usually related to the claims she made when she was arrested.
Sainsbury maintained her innocence throughout her trial and said she had proof on her mobile phone, but couldn’t remember the pin code to access the information.
She said during her time as a sex worker at Club 220, in western Sydney, she met a man who offered her a role as a ‘courier’; a ‘shady’ job that led to her foiled drug smuggling effort.
She has always maintained she believed she would only be transporting documents, and not drugs, and only agreed to the job because she ‘needed the money’.
‘I know how it sounds, because obviously I accepted to come into it for money, I needed money, but I wasn’t exactly like, I came there thinking, yes I’m going to go and smuggle drugs, it wasn’t like that,’ she said.
In April 2017, Sainsbury flew from Adelaide to Bogota, via Guangzhou and Los Angeles.
It was at a hotel in the Colombian capital that she claimed to have met up with the ‘mastermind’ behind the plot, a Brazilian drug lord named ‘Angelo’.
Angelo reportedly threatened to kill all of Sainsbury’s loved ones if she did not agree to carry the drugs, though she has never been able to verify her claims.
Sainsbury learned to speak fluent Spanish in jail, and has spoken of her desire to work as an English teacher or translator as she serves out her parole in Colombia.
The 24-year-old must stay in Colombia for another 27 months as part of the terms of her early release, but can live a relatively normal life. The only requirement is that she meets with authorities once every six months.
A TIMELINE OF THE COCAINE CASSIE CASE:
April 2017: Cassie Sainsbury, then 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 Joslianinyer Pico.
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.