FAMILY HELD IN JAMAICA; Drugs charges follow airport arrest EXCLUSIVE.
FAMILY and friends of a Teesside family arrested in Jamaica over allegations of attempting to smuggle Class A drugs today spoke of their shock.
Middlesbrough woman Andrea Henry, 39, and her 17-year-old daughter Toni Christine Bellamy have been charged with drug trafficking offences and were due to appear before a Jamaican court today.
Andrea's 32-year-old partner Wayne Walshaw, from Loftus, is also in custody accused of the same offences. His father today said his son had been due to fly home to Teesside to bury his mum who died last week.
The trio were arrested after the mum and daughter, of Ettington Avenue, Park End, were questioned on suspicion of attempting to smuggle cocaine internally. All three are suspected of swallowing packages of cocaine.
They were due to board a flight to Manchester before they were arrested on Sunday at Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay.
Today Ms Henry's mum and stepdad told of their shock. An emotional Irene Homer, who lives just a few doors down from her daughter on Ettington Avenue, said: "We are all in shock, it's unbelievable. We have only had one phone call.
We don't know what's happening."
Mrs Homer and her husband, Alan, said they could not comment further.
Wayne Walshaw's dad Robert, 56, of Linden Road, Brotton, buried his wife Susan, 50, two days ago without his son by his side, after she lost a battle with kidney problems.
Robert told how he had phoned Wayne to give him the news his mum had died, and thought he was flying home. But on Sunday, he received a telephone call to say his son had been arrested.
He said: "I'm totally in the dark. I'm shocked. He's a grown man and he's ex-Army so he knows about the danger of drugs."
Robert said he was waiting for more information from the Foreign Office.
He said divorced Wayne had been with Andrea, who also has a son, for about three years.
Robert had thought his son, who was often contracted to work abroad as a shovel driver, was in Portugal and wasn't aware he was in Jamaica.
Ms Henry's next-door-neighbour of five years in Park End, Lawrence Kavanagh, 47, said: "They never cause any problems and they always said when they were going to have parties. I am shocked."
Another neighbour who has not been named said: "They always seemed a lovely couple so I'm shocked to hear about this."
The trio were arrested under the Operation Airbridge initiative - a joint British and Jamaican programme to catch drugs couriers with internal concealments of Class A drugs before they board planes from Jamaica.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said they had no local involvement in the case.
Tony Walker, director of Border Force Intelligence and National Operations, UK Border Agency, said: "Operation Airbridge has proved to be a great success in preventing harmful drugs hitting the streets of the UK and other European countries. Airbridge powerfully demonstrates the importance of working closely with other global partners, such as Jamaica. This collaboration is helping to protect both countries from the violence and corruption that always accompanies the trade in illegal drugs."
DUE IN COURT: Andrea Henry, from Middlesbrough, her daughter Toni Christine Bellamy and partner Wayne Walshaw, from Loftus, are facing drugs charges in Jamaica; CHARGED: Andrea Henry, above