A FORMER student from St John’s School, in Marlborough, who made headlines around the world as being a "Barbie Bandit" has told of how her life has been "ripped apart."
Georgia Wawman, from Great Bedwyn, was arrested at gunpoint by Argentinian police last month on suspicion of being part of a criminal gang that carried out violent robberies at mansions in the capital of Buenos Aires.
The story made the papers all around the world, describing how police broke into her boyfriend Jose Mino’s house, while she slept with her son Milo, two, and arrested her before keeping her locked up in a cell and "taunting" her.
However, the 26-year-old, who works as a nursery teacher, has now spoken to a national newspaper and accused the police of fabricating the story to damage her reputation.
Speaking from her father’s home in Ascot, Berkshire, she said: “My life has been ripped apart, I have packed up my life in Argentina and cannot imagine ever being able to live there again.
"It was only when I sat on the plane and the wheels left the Tarmac that I began to relax.
“The police never explained why they had arrested me. I only found out from the media once I had been released that I was supposed to be the ‘brains’ of an armed gang.
“In fact, neither of us have ever been in trouble with the police and, by the time we were in the headlines, Jose and I had both been released without even being questioned, let alone charged. None of the other six so-called gang members was charged either.”
Miss Wawman plans to sue the Argentinian police for wrongful arrest. Describing what happened on January 14, she said: “I heard an almighty bang and sat bolt upright – I actually thought the gazebo had fallen down.
“When I looked out of the window I saw a dozen armed men in black suits and black masks. I was absolutely terrified. I thought they were going to kill me.
“My immediate instinct was to grab Milo, roll him in the duvet like a sausage and lie on top of him to protect him if they shot me. Within moments they were upstairs, thrusting guns in my face and screaming at me to get on the ground.
“After a while they lowered their guns and an officer grabbed me – I had Milo in my arms. He was saying, ‘Who are you? Where are you from?’ They obviously weren’t expecting me to be in the house.
"The officer told me they wanted to search my home. I still thought they were going to kill me, so I told them they could go anywhere they wanted.
“I was taken downstairs and sat at the kitchen table. All I could hear was banging and things flying around. They were grabbing drawers and chucking everything on the floor, saying, ‘Nothing. Clean. Nothing. Clean’.
“Finally they asked me where Jose was and I said, ‘He’s gone to work.’ He drives tankers for one of Argentina’s largest petroleum firms.
“They then read me a search warrant saying they were looking for stolen goods – jewels, money, plasma TVs and other electrical appliances. I froze. ‘Don’t go outside,’ they warned me. ‘There are vans of officers there and they might think you are trying to escape.’
Miss Wawman added: “I believe they set us up in order to make themselves look good for solving the robberies.
“I was back at home when the investigating officer popped up on television boasting at having such a big catch even though, by then, he knew I was innocent."