A few weeks ago I was lying in bed watching an episode of Channel Five’s ‘Locked Up Abroad’. The episode featured the story of Sarah Jackson and Simon Burke. In early 2007, Sarah, having got herself in debt with a threatening and abusive drug dealer had agreed to go to Peru and smuggle cocaine back with her in exchange for clearing her debts. She invited her friend Simon on the holiday to unwittingly provide an air of legitimacy for her trip. Simon was unaware of the real reason for the trip.
Towards the end of the trip, Sarah excused herself from Simon and returned to the hotel room where she took delivery of the cocaine and hid it inside her suitcase. At the airport she sent Simon to the information desk to enquire about his luggage which had gone missing on the flight over there while she checked in. Sarah checked in ok but was stopped because of a suspicious passport. When her bag was searched the police found the cocaine. Simon, unaware of this, returned from the info desk to find her and was taken by the police into a room where he saw Sarah and the cocaine. Simon’s shyness and stumbling speech convinced the police that he was involved despite Sarah’s protestations that he was innocent. The police footage taken during the search and shortly after the arrest shown in the show demonstrate just how dumbfounded and terrified Simon was. Nevertheless Sarah and Simon were jailed for 18 days together before being separated and sent to different prisons. Simon was sent to a violent, nightmarish men’s prison while Sarah was sent to a women’s prison which had much in common with a busy day care centre.
The Peruvian justice system is so overwhelmed that only 1 in 8 inmates of Sarah’s prison have been convicted. It took 10 months in prison before the police accepted Sarah’s confession and statement of Simon’s innocence and Simon was freed in November 2007. However until Sarah’s is convicted, the police are retaining Simon’s passport as he is still a witness in the Peruvian courts and potentially, still a suspect. As such, Simon was stuck in limbo in Peru, awaiting the outcome of Sarah’s trial so he can be allowed home.
I watched this show a few weeks ago as I said and I decided to check up on what happened to the case, I remember watching the show cringing and thinking how awful it must be to be trapped in limbo like that. I thought the show might have been recorded last year or something and was horrified that Simon is still stuck in Peru a year on from his release, visiting court regularly while he awaits Sarah’s trial. I couldn’t believe it, he was such a nice, honest, genuine guy. His only mistake is to be unwittingly caught up in somebody else’s scam.
What amazes me is that apart from the Banged Up Abroad episode, how little mainstream press this case is getting. The guy is clearly innocent and yet is being held in a country with no means of supporting himself. He is staying in the spare room of a Peruvian family waiting to be cleared. It has cost his family £10,000 and he has lost 2 years of his life and still counting for doing nothing wrong. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. The whole thing touched me so much I decided to get involved. I’ve never met Simon but the story really upset me.
After being refused a petition by http://www.number10.gov.uk/ on the basis that it is a Home Office issue, you can sign the petition to campaign for Simon to be allowed to return home at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/send-simon-home.html
There are 2 Facebook groups dedicated to campaigning for him to be allowed to return home. If you’re on Facebook, search for “Get Simon Burke Home” and “Send Simon Home”. While the petition and Facebook groups will have little affect on the Peruvian government or judicial systems directly, the campaign for greater media exposure that these things are aiming for will hopefully push the otherwise ineffectual British Home Office and British Embassy in Lima into working harder to get Simon sent home.
A few people have asked why he doesn’t just jump the border by illegal means or whether he would return to Peru if allowed home. He says himself that he doesn’t want to jeopardise his case. If he were caught trying to jump the border he would be screwed. He has no wish to avoid the legal proceedings he is involved in, he just wants to clear his name and get back to his life.
There are 2 local newspaper articles featuring the case here and here. Read them if you will. Simon has been to court several times since they were published, despite one article claiming he may soon be released.
You can watch the episode of Banged Up Abroad at Channel Five here though I’m told you need to sign-up and it requires Windows Media Player. If you find it affects you in the same way it did me, then why don’t you sign the petition and join the Facebook groups which are keeping his spirits up and are the focal point for people trying to raise the media’s awareness of the case.
Now I’m not prone to this kind of thing, I’m not the type for campaigning like a teen soap character who is always fighting for some cause or other, but I just felt really bad for the guy and I was really surprised that he was still stuck in Peru.
In any case, I wish Simon the best I hope he is allowed to return home soon.
UPDATE 22/11/2008: Simon’s innocence was confirmed by the Peruvian courts on 24th November 2008 and is now free to return home, pending application for the return of his passport and should be home by Christmas. Best wishes my man.
UPDATE 17/03/2009: Simon is still in Peru as the prosecution has appealed despite Simon’s acquittal. Looks like he could be there for several more months. You can vote to ask David Miliband, the UK Foreign Secretary about Simon’s case here or donate to the cost of Simon’s living expenses here. To date it has cost Simon’s parents around £20,000 as he receives no income in Peru, anything you can add to offset those costs would be gratefully received.
Keep up to date with Simon’s case by joining the Get Simon Burke Home group on Facebook here.
UPDATE 09/10/2009: After 2 and a half years, Simon’s case has been completed and all paperwork finished, he is now free to return home and should do so on Sunday 11th October 2009. It looks like there might be quite a large welcoming party 🙂 You can find out more on Facebook here. Best wishes mate, good to have you home 🙂
UPDATE 12/10/2009: Simon is now back home with his family in England.
Hi Adam…just to update your blog on Simon Burke…Simon has not been allowed to leave Peru…he is still over there pending an appeal. Visit his facebook page to get all the information you need to bring you up to date with his story.. March 2009
I just watched Locked Up Abroad – the Simon Burke story and am disgusted with Peru’s “justice” system. RIDICULOUS !!! My heart goes out to Simon – I can’t tell you what I think about Sara….she is pure evil. I have looked for his recent information (March=-09) but am unable to find anything…on any type of progress or what we the people can do for him…..the petition was closed Nov -08 and I don’t know if there are any letter writing campaigns. If so, please let me know. My family suppports (from the USA) Simon….
i just watched the show of this case a while ago. Felt sorry that this guy is still stuck in peru and not being allowed to go home. What I do not understand is WHY did he not hire a good lawyer (thru the help of UK Embassy) to present his case since he is innocent in the first place? And why did the UK Embassy not helping himin th first place knwoing too he is innocence? Sarah Jackson is pure selfish evil for putting this man’s life in jeopardy from start. I wish all the best to Simon and that he can go back home soon.
Iwatched the program on cable.I am digusted with their justice system and Sara.How could you do that to someone.Simon needs to be let go so he can come home.They can keep Sara we have enough degenerates in the USA.
Iwatched the program on cable.I am disgusted with their justice system and Sara.How could you do that to someone.Simon needs to be let go so he can come home.They can keep Sara we have enough degenerates in the USA.
after watching banged up abroad i could not beleive what sara had done to simon. she was supposed to be his friend, well with friends like that who would need enemies. simon should be sent home with full apologies from peru and as for sara well she can stay in peru shes doing her time in much better conditions than innocent simon did where’s the justice in that. sara should have said at the aiport that simon was not involved better still do your dirty work on your own sara. my heart goes out to simon. simon hang in there we are supporting you from australia
I watched the show and felt very sad for Simon. Unfortunately Peru does not have the Judicial system other countries do. It’s not America or Europe. The thing we all have to understand is that once you are caught with drugs, you are already a criminal to them no matter what! So being treated like the way they were, is normal. We come from a county that we have rights, over there, you lose your rights once you are considered a criminal. You cannot blame them for doing their job. It’s not for the Peruvian authorities to say “sorry” it’s that idiot evil woman who lied and ruined Simon’s life. The thing that I don’t understand is why she did not say anything to the authorities when they got caught in the first place and clear his name. She is selfish and I’m glad she is getting punished. At least they should be glad it did not happen over the Philippines, because they would get a death sentence and nobody could intervene that!
Simon should keep his hopes up. I hope he gets his life back and goes back home. The British Embassy should help him with a lawyer now..that should be their duty!!!
Can Simon’s family file a civil suit against Sarah in Britain on his behalf? Something more needs to be done to her, she has completely ruined this man’s life.
After watching ‘Locked Up Abroad’ here in the States, I felt like reaching through the screen and slapping the smirk off Sara’s face. She appears to be quite satisfied with her living arrangements and has no clue that she has totally devastated Simon’s life and his families. What happened to the African who sent her over to get the drugs? Maybe Peru would consider trading Simon for that piece of sh*t.
I appreciate you putting this blog together. Those of us concerned about Simon should be proactive in repatriating him to his family, friend and homeland. To that end, I have sent him some funds via paypal and I have contacted the UK Embassy in the United States and Peru.
Here are the contact info:
UK Embassy in United States
UK Embassy in Peru
Here is a copy of a letter that I sent and that you can feel free to edit as you want.
– – – – –
Dear UK Embassy,
I am contacting you to implore you to make a concerted effort on behalf of your citizen Simon Burke who is being detained in Peru against his will as an innocent man in addition to being subjected to the indignation of 10 months of prison time in a cell that resembles a horror chamber. It is time for Mr. Burke to be repatriated to his homeland. Please contact the Peruvian government and ask the government to return Mr. Burke to the UK and to assume his living expenses in Peru until the government has repatriated him.
As you probably know, Mr. Burke was arrested along with another UK Citizen, Sarah Jackson, for drug smuggling while trying to depart from the airport in Peru. Ms. Jackson has confessed to being solely responsible for the illegal act and Mr. Burke has consistently asserted he is innocent of illegal activity. Given the above circumstances, your government should be taking a more proactive approach to repatriating your citizen without further delay.
Please let me know what steps your government is taking to repatriate Mr. Burke. Thank you in advance.
Contact the Peruvian government’s Embassy in the Unites States at:
My letter below (edit as you want):
– – – – –
Dear Ambassador Luis Valdivieso Montano,
I am contacting you to request that your repatriate Mr. Simon Burke, a UK citizen, to his homeland. Mr. Simon Burke who is being detained in Peru against his will is an innocent man in addition to being subjected to the indignation of 10 months of prison time in a cell that resembles a horror chamber. It is time for Mr. Burke to be repatriated to his homeland. Please contact the Peruvian legal authorities and ask them to return Mr. Burke to the UK and to assume his living expenses in Peru until he has been repatriated.
As you probably know, Mr. Burke was arrested along with another UK Citizen, Sarah Jackson, for drug smuggling while trying to depart from the airport in Peru. Ms. Jackson has confessed to being solely responsible for the illegal act and Mr. Burke has consistently asserted he is innocent of illegal activity. Given the above circumstances, your government should be taking a more proactive approach to repatriating Mr. Burke without further delay.
I am an avid international traveler and had been planning a trip to Peru this year. However, until you have repatriated Mr. Burke I will not come to your country as a tourist. Please let me know what steps your government is taking to repatriate Mr. Burke. Thank you in advance.
According to this story …..
“A Brit who has been held in Peru for almost two years on suspicion of drug smuggling was told yesterday he is free to return home.” Nov 28, 2008
I’m confused. Have not been able to locate any news items dated more recently than the above. Has the Peruvian government gone back on their word, or appealed his case? Can they really double-jeopardy him like that?
Dear Concerned US Citizen, The letters you wrote are beautiful and very impressive. How wonderful that some people are still willing to help others, with cash as well as the time and effort to do something for someone in distress. I am truly inspired. Thank you for restoring my faith in humankind.
I also just watched the program on the tv and was shocked and appalled, what a terrible woman that Sara is… she just used Simon and took advantage of the fact he is such a nice guy. Is there another current petition we can sign to get him home?
After watching a tv program about someone who had no respect or care for others, it is lovely to see that there are still great people about who care enough to show there concern and offer help…
Hang in there Simon and Good Luck xx
We just saw the “trouble in paradise” here in Finland.
And it was really sad this time, because there were no happy ending, this time – – YET.
We are wondering if British Embassy is doing anything for the Simon’s case?? If not – then why not?
All my family send the good thoughts for Simon and we are also praying for Simon to get back home, and hopefullu really soon.
Simon: If you read this, you may find some help, and at least could speak english, with american missionairies in The church of latter-day-saints in spanish: La Iglesia JesuCristo de los Santos de los Ultimos dias. I’m not mormon myself, but i know people who are, and i know they are doing great support for many people. Here is the link for addresses for chappels in Lima, there seem to have plenty:
Well – just hoping you can go home very soon, and be able to live normal life.
Keep up the hope!
Lennart & family,
in Finland, Europe
Sorry – wrong link in accident –
here is the link i meant:
There is so mane chappels in Lima, you hopefully find some of them near you. There should always be people from states, so you can hang around and speak english. They are people who are willing to help.
Hope you can survive and be home very soon.
– Lennart, Finland
Is this blog still working?
If my information is correct Simon is still in Lima living with a Peruvian family. Even though he was found to be innocent at his trial the Peruvian Prosecutor appealed his case and he is not free to leave the country until the Supreme Court hears his case. This is not unusual under Peruvian law. Simone depends on the support of his family in the UK, costing them untold expenses (lawyers, living expenses, telephone, etc.) I am communicating with a person claiming to be Simon and I believe he is. He seems to be in good spirits but misses his family and home. He certinatly doesn’t deserve to be trapped in Lima. He does occasionally get out of the city but is limited by finances and his concern to keep up with his case. You can search Facebook and locate him as well as find a PayPal link which will send donations to him through his family in the UK.
My thoughts and prayers are with him and I truely hope his case is resolved soon. I am writing to the email addresses mentioned in earlier posts in this blog. It doesn’t hurt to have as many people as possible write to the Consular and Ambassador on Simon’s behalf. Think about it, this could be you or me instead. Wouldn’t you appreciate the help of others if you were helpless and in an foreign country where you didn’t speak the langusge fluently?
I was affected too! Sarah is a single mother BITCH! She should have said something at the Airport to clear him, and the poor sod was led on by this COW!
Angry in Bremen
Sarah is vile and evil. How could she do this to a friend?!?!?
I watched this show on Simon and that pathetic waste of gods material Sara and am beyond disgusted….Simon if you get this I have thought of you and your troubles everyday since and I am TRULEY sorry. I was hoping that someone that reads this is computer literate, I really believe in my heart that Oprah could help and would want to help with something like this, but I dont even know where to begin or how to contact her, I dont even know how to use “facebook.” Is there anyone out there that would know how to do this? If so PLEASE get the ball rolling. God Bless this poor man and his family, we are rooting for you, you are in our prayers and we love you…..
Disturbed in Scottsdale, AZ
The peruvian law should be made in such a manner that no innocent should go to prision..now he was not guily why was he sent …so what sort of judicial system they got ?
How many innocents will be dying..this is bad..
I just watched the episode and was appalled. Brits must vigorously petition their politicians, and the Peruvian embassy to put an end to Simon Burke’s plight. Their own courts have proven him innocent – the prosecution cannot keep dragging his case on indefinitely. Keep sending Miliband blast email petitions seeking Simon’s release.
I watched this episode of Simon yesterday. i was deeply saddened at Simon’s plight ….even though he is proven innocent why is he still illegally detained in Peru.Should’nt the international court of justice take action against this illegal detainment. I cannot imagine that this could ever happen to anyone. Moreover even the UK govt and embassy in Peru should also step up their efforts to get Simon back home and also support him in Peru.
I appeal to all the global human rights organisations to please get Simon back to the UK.
Simon if your reading this I just wanna tell u that there are people from all parts of the world who care for u. You will always be in our prayers.
I just saw the jailed abroad here in Bangladesh about Simon Burke. What Sara did was inhumane. I don’t know how she sleeps at night. I am deeply touched by how everyone has shown their support and thank u Adam for your blog. God Bless.
I just saw the show here in California. I had taped it so it is weeks old. My internet research is a bit confusing. Is Simon still in Lima?
I just seen the show last night here in Ireland and I wanna help. Is Simon still in South America?
any update on this?? saw the episode of ‘banged up abroad’ last night and was disgusted. Sara = BITCH!!! Howe is Simon now, has he been allowed to return home??
Will-RawTV said… on October 8th, 2009 at 5:02 PM
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Hi Guys, My name is Will, and I’m a researcher for Raw Television in London, on the programme ‘Banged Up Abroad’ which is shown on Channel 5 and National Geographic, and Simon was one of our contributors, and I’m just posting to update you on Simon’s progress. Basically we have been informed that he has been given the provisional okay to leave the country and arrive home in the next few days, and we would like to try and build up a reception for him as he arrives back home. If you would be interested in giving us a hand please give me an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peruvian justice system is what it is. This is not a wealthy, developed country like Britain or the US. It doesn’t have the resources to make everything as fair as possible. It’s a developing country with scarce resources… hence the slow judicial process and poor prison conditions.
Also, it would have been possible for Simon to leaves earlier by crossing into a neighbouring country overland (i.e. bypassing customs), going to the British Embassy there and getting a new passport and passage home.
All the more reason to boycott Peru and any other South American country like this for the crap they pull. If Americans and Europeans decided not to spend money their they’d feel the bite. These people to me are loathsome. I wouldn’t spend a dime in any South American country because they’re all corrupt. Just research Alberto Fujimori.
I Feel for Simon……
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After viewing the show, I never knew it was so easy to get caught up in “someone elses drama”. I know Simon has a strong sense of distrust towards people now. But I pray that he will soon find out that all people are not like Sarah, and that he DOES has and will meet true friends. I pray that he will not associate himself with Sarah again, accept her apology but do not open himself to her friendship again, she has proved herself unworthy of his love and heart.
Simon is so heroic, truly great guy
Simon, you have been home eight months and I just learned of your story. I wish you love, Sir. May you have Love and Peace and Joy. I am so glad you are home. “Welcome Home.”
What is going on with Simon?I watch the Trouble in Paradise last night and i search a lithe.I think Sara is so evil.Poor Simon.If someone watch tis web site and know some informations please can he write about it where.
FREEDOM FOR SIMON!!!
I just see that Simon is home.
I truly commend you for your blog and all your help in trying to assist Simon and his family.My husband and I honeymooned in Peru in Oct 2010 (we’re from Sydney,Aus). We truly loved the experiences we had and the people but can relate to the ‘dodgyness’ of the judicial system and Peru’s politicians. Whilst we made sure we had various locks and security on our luggage, we were still very concerned that perhaps someone would tamper with our luggage both going there and coming home, and that we would be also arrested for someone else’s ‘issues’. But all was ok. I truly feel for Simon and am so glad to hear he’s safe and home where he belongs. Please don’t boycott Peru as a holiday destination. The people are lovely/friendly and they truly need the tourist dollar and the country has so much culture and history to offer. Remember it was Sarah who got Simon in trouble in the first place.
Amanda do you really believe Pruvian people are lovely/friendly?
I found them to be some of the most unfriendly people I encountered on my round the world trip. Obviously everyone has different experiences but I feel it’s a beautiful country blighted by greedy and unwelcoming locals who see you only for your money rather than your status as human being.
Same problem in Bolivia, but not in Chile/Argentina/Colombia/Ecuador. I can only imagine it’s because of the tourism boom in Peru. Shame.