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Briton insists 10-year jail term for growing cannabis was excessive

Daniel Holmes with Marzena, his fiancée.

Daniel Holmes with Marzena, his fiancée.

Daniel Holmes,  a Briton jailed for ten-and-a-half years for growing cannabis yesterday insisted through his lawyer in court that the prison term was excessive given all the mitigating factors.

Lawyer Kenneth Grima said that his client should have received four years, pointing out that in England a similar crime would mean a slap on the wrist.

Dr Grima made his submissions to back up a written appeal document.

Mr Holmes received the jail term after admitting to the cultivation of the plants and four other counts of drug related charges including trafficking.

Since sentencing, more than 3,500 people have signed an online petition calling for a reduction in the jail term, a point raised by Dr Grima, who was immediately told by the judges that this was irrelevant and for him to stick to facts.

In his submissions, the lawyer said  the prosecution had painted a picture of drug pusher living in a luxurious flat when this was not the case. Mr Holmes was paying €350 a month in rent and the type of apartment and its contents were definitely not luxurious in any way.

Furthermore, the drug found in the apartment did not belong solely to him but also to his friend, Barry Lee, who had since committed suicide while in prison facing the same charges.

He said that his client was also jailed on the incorrect assumption that the weight of the plants amounted to more than a kilogram when this included the stem and roots, which if excluded would substantially reduce the amount.

In response, lawyer Maxilene Bonnett from the Attorney General's Office said that Mr Holmes had admitted to the crime and knew exactly what he was doing. He was also given the right to withdraw that plea as was procedure and yet he continued through.

There were many plants which were found and not just a few as the defence were implying, she said.

When it came to punishment, four of the charges carried a maximum of life imprisonment, the lawyer said, adding that it was Mr Holmes who received the better deal as a week before he was sentenced; another man received the same prison term for possession of far less cannabis.

An appeal decision is expected in October.

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