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Welsh dad fails in bid to have 10-year sentence cut for growing five cannabis plants


A Welsh dad jailed for 10-and-a-half years on Malta after being caught growing five cannabis plants has failed in his latest bid to have the sentence reduced.

Daniel Holmes from Newport was convicted on the island of Gozo in 2011 and handed a decade-long sentence at Corradino Correctional Facility (CCF) near the Maltese capital, Valetta.

A Constitutional Court hearing, which found his “right to a fair trial had been breached” led to renewed hope last week the 35-year-old would soon be free.

But despite the ruling, which found that criminal proceedings against Mr Holmes had taken an unreasonable length of time and that he had been exposed to arbitrary punishment, the prisoner was granted only €7,000 compensation (£5,500) and no reduction in his sentence, to the despair of his family.

Parents Mel and Kate, who live in Risca, Newport and wife Marzena, who lives in Cardiff with their three-year-old daughter, Rainbow have been left “quietly devastated” by the latest setback.

Retired teacher Mel said: “The lawyers are happy because the ruling has proved there are faults in the Maltese legal system which need reform.

“But even though they’ve admitted his human rights were breached the decision has not done a great deal for Daniel.

“We were hoping for at least the sentence to be halved, he’s served around three-years now so the nightmare should be coming to an end.

“He has been wronged, served his time and he should now be released, that was the result we were hoping for.

“But €7000 is an insult, we’ve spent many times more than that in legal fees already and it will continue to cost us.

“Awarding him that sum is a slap in the face.”

Daniel was arrested in 2006 for growing cannabis weighing about 1kg – including the roots and stems – with his English flat-mate, Barry Lee.

Malta’s laws make no distinction between cultivating and trafficking and the authorities threw the book at the pair. Barry, 44, was found hanged in prison in 2010.

In November 2011, Daniel – who has always maintained the drug was for personal use only – pleaded guilty in the hope of receiving a lesser sentence, but was jailed for 10-and-a-half-years.

His treatment sparked outcry on the island, with thousands signing petitions calling for a fair sentence on appeal.

By Sion Morgan
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