The family of a British woman jailed in Egypt after being found guilty of smuggling drugs into the country says they fear she will not survive three years in prison.

Shop worker Laura Plummer, 33, from Hull, was arrested after she was found to be carrying 290 Tramadol tablets in her suitcase, a painkiller which is legal in the UK but banned in Egypt, the Daily Mail reported.

Ms Plummer's family, who have described her as "naive", said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar Caboo, who suffers from severe back pain.

Laura Plummer with her partner Omar Caboo. Photo / Supplied
Laura Plummer with her partner Omar Caboo. Photo / Supplied

But now a judge at a preliminary court has sentenced her to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($8000).

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"If she ever makes it out of there, I will be amazed," Plummer's sister Jayne Synclair told the Mirror.

"She will probably be dead if she has to stay in there for three years."

The 40-year-old added: "She is not the strongest person - she's already having a nervous breakdown and is being kicked and punched in the holding prison."

Yesterday, her lawyer said Ms Plummer had "accidentally" confessed in front of a judge after reportedly misunderstanding a question.

Plummer's family previously claimed she was suicidal after sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

It has also been claimed that staff at the jail - which is on the outskirts of the city of Hurgharda - have shown little sympathy for what the Egyptian media are calling the "Tramadol Tourist".

Mr Caboo was described by witnesses at the court as being "very sad" after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her down.

In shocking videos leaked to Al Jazeera, jails in Egypt were shown to be cramped and dirty. Photo / via Al Jazeera
In shocking videos leaked to Al Jazeera, jails in Egypt were shown to be cramped and dirty. Photo / via Al Jazeera

Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Synclair, said: "This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence.

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"She brought [the drugs] to help someone, to help a family."

She added: "She's the kindest person... I was worried about her before, [when she was] in the police station. I'm even more worried now she's in actual prison with real criminals.

"I feel sick - I'm so frightened for her."

She has now been transferred to a police station, from which she will be sent to jail.

The sentence, however, can be changed as the case progresses through the Egyptian legal system.

It is expected to take a minimum of one month for the second stage of the case to begin.

The family said her lawyers lodged an immediate appeal.

Plummer's sister, Rachel, said their mother Roberta was "devastated" by the sentence.

She said the family was trying to find out more details about what happened in the courtroom today.

She said: "My mum's obviously devastated. She's out there by herself." She added that she did not know whether the appeal would be heard today.

She said: "We're just hoping. Even half of that would be better. Anything less than three years. She doesn't deserve that."

Ms Plummer's MP Karl Turner said the ruling had come as a devastating blow to her family but he was hopeful that good sense would eventually prevail.

He said her case had been raised with the Egyptian authorities by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt.

"I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

"This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

"This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison."

Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacy. Photo / via Al Jazeera
Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacy. Photo / via Al Jazeera

Neville Plummer, Laura's father, said his daughter is "on the verge of a breakdown" after the sentencing.

"The family are all absolutely devastated for Laura. It has been very distressing for everyone involved, but we have got to stay strong for Laura," he said.

"The last time I spoke to Laura was two days after she was arrested. To be honest, I think she was sentenced on the day she was arrested.

"This has been drawn out and dragged on and on, and in a way a line has now been drawn in the sand and things can only get better."

"We have now got to stay positive for Laura," Mr Plummer said.

"I will leave no stone unturned, and will let no money stand in the way of getting her the justice she needs.

"She pleaded guilty to the trafficking when she did not even mean to plead guilty that is not justice, that is an injustice.

"I will never give up with the help. It is a very sad day for the family, at what should be a happy time of the year."

Mr Plummer praised the work of the lawyers and legal teams who had represented Laura during the hearing.

He also said Hull East MP Karl Turner had been very supportive of Laura, and was continuing in his work to help the Hull woman.

Mr Turner said: "I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail.

"This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

"This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison."

Yesterday her lawyer said she had "accidentally" pleaded guilty during a hearing.

Her mother Roberta Synclair travelled to Egypt for the Christmas Day hearing.

Her lawyer Dia al-Bassal said Ms Plummer was asked yesterday: "You are accused of smuggling and possessing Tramadol to Egypt?"

She then replied "yes", with the judge ensuring the clerk recorded she had "confessed" to the crime.

But when her translator explained what the question was, she denied being guilty of the charge.

Mr Bassal told The Telegraph: "She meant that she is admitting that she had the Tramadol, but not admitting of being guilty.

"The judge jumped to the conclusion that she confesses before clarifying that she understood the question and this is worrying."

Ms Plummer then reportedly wept in frustration, stressing "it's not fair".

Her lawyer will submit an explanation today emphasising that she meant to say she had the drug with her but did not intend to sell it.

Her sister Rachel Plummer said the judge adjourned the case for a day because of Laura's condition.

She said: "She's sleep deprived, she's visibly nervous and upset.

"She's answered some questions wrong because she's not understanding them, she obviously can't think straight.

"You can imagine the pressure - this is her life."

She said their mother and Mr Caboo were denied access to the hearing as their driver took them to court late.

MP Karl Turner told Sky News yesterday's hearing was adjourned so that Ms Plummer could find another interpreter.

He said: "Apparently something was lost in translation, the defence lawyer wasn't confident that Laura was understanding the questions first of all, and the interpreter wasn't correctly translating what Laura was saying in her answers."

Mr Turner said: "The evidence is pretty clear that she didn't know the drug was banned and she was taking it out there to help her boyfriend, who has come up with the evidence that he does suffer from a severe back problem."

The Plummer family has previously said she had no idea that what she doing was illegal and was just "daft".

They said she did not try to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was pulled over by officials after arriving for a holiday with her partner.

Mrs Synclair said her daughter was being held in terrible conditions in a communal cell with no beds, sharing with up to 25 other women.

She said she looked "unrecognisable".

Ms Plummer is being held in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, where she was arrested at the airport on October 9.

Her family has been told that she could face up to 25 years in jail, with one lawyer even mentioning the death penalty.

Yesterday her lawyer claimed the price of her plane ticket could set her free.

Mohamed Othman said that a plane ticket shows she did not intend to sell the 290 Tramadol tablets found in her suitcase because she paid twice as much for her flight as the drugs are worth.

Othman called the plane ticket a "key piece of evidence".

He told The Sun: "For someone to be found guilty of drug smuggling they have to be aware that they are possessing narcotics. Laura did not know that what she was carrying was a narcotic.

"It is illogical that she was dealing in Tramadol.She had only 320 pills - even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills."

Plummer wept in court as she appeared in front of a judge on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is a normal working day in the Islamic country, and the shop assistant from Hull appeared in the dock handcuffed.

Miss Plummer's mother Roberta Synclair and Mr Caboo arrived late to the courtroom and stood outside.

Mr Caboo, speaking outside of court, was convinced Miss Plummer would be freed.

He told MailOnline: "I am sure Laura is innocent. She did not bring the Tramadol for selling or trading.

"I am sure she will be freed. She did not intend to do smuggle or trade."

When Miss Plummer was arrested on October 9, she signed a 38-page document written in Arabic as she thought it would grant her freedom.

It led to her being locked up and she has already spent ten weeks in prison sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

Last month, her mother Roberta Synclair said: "She did not realise what she was doing."

She said Ms Plummer made no attempt to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was first pulled over by officials when she flew into the country for a holiday with Mr Caboo.