25 Mar 2012

NZ woman to appeal drug smuggling verdict

2:40 pm on 25 March 2012

A New Zealand woman sentenced by an Argentinian court to almost five years in jail for drug smuggling will appeal against the verdict.

Sharon Armstrong, a former deputy chief executive at the Maori Language Commission, was arrested in April last year after trying to board a plane with 5kg of cocaine in a suitcase.

She has been sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison, having already spent 11 months in a jail in Ezeiza, on the outskirts of the capital, Buenos Aires.

A spokesperson for her family believes Armstrong has a strong case, saying she had no intention of smuggling drugs when she picked up the suitcase in Buenos Aires for a man she had met on an internet dating website.

Armstrong maintains she thought she was carrying paperwork for the man who wanted it delivered to him in London.

The spokesperson says the judge accepted she had been caught up in an online dating scam.