The two women being detained in Peru pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a closed hearing in court on Tuesday.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Dungannon, Co. Tyrone and Melissa Reid, 20, from Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire admitted their crimes at the private hearing in Lima yesterday.

On August 6th the pair were arrested on suspicion of attempting to smuggle cocaine worth over $2.5 million out of Peru while trying to board a flight to Spain. They both claim to have been kidnapped and forced into carrying the drugs by drug lords.

The two women are being held at an assessment centre in Lima after being arrested with £1.5m worth of cocaine at Lima Airport in August.

Their guilty plea comes after a deal was struck with Peruvian authorities to ensure they receive a shorter sentence.

The Mirror reports the hearing took place in a makeshift courtroom at a men's jail in Lima called Sarita Colonia.

A spokesman for the fourth criminal court of Callao, in charge of the judicial investigation into Melissa and Michaella, confirmed: "Both women have pleaded guilty to drugs trafficking.

"It means they automatically benefit from a sixth off the minimum jail sentence of eight years and will be sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

"Sentencing has not taken place yet and a new hearing where the women will be sentenced has now got to be arranged but it's likely that will take place in around a week's time."

Meanwhile a religious leader in Peru has praised the “bravery” of the two women.

Archbishop Sean Walsh who has visited the two women several times over the past month said they were “doing as well as can be expected.”

He told the Newsletter: “They are being treated well and respectfully. They are aware of the seriousness of the situation they are in but are being very brave.”

“This has not been easy for them but they are doing well in the circumstances,” Archbishop Walsh added.