‘Pauper’ Daniel Holmes is no drug baron, defence tells court

Submissions start in appeal of 10-year prison sentence of Daniel Holmes, on cannabis possession and trafficking judgement.

Daniel Holmes
Daniel Holmes

The defence counsel of Daniel Holmes told the court how the Briton accused of the trafficking of drugs, ostensibly after a cannabis plant was found at his house, lived in an old, ugly and decrepit apartment, a far cry from the prosecution's claim of living in luxury.

Daniel Alexander Holmes is appealing a jail term of 10 year, six months and a €23,000 fine, after facing five charges of drug possession and trafficking, four of which carried a life sentence, related to the discovery of a cannabis plant in his Gozo home. Holmes admitted to all charges ahead of a trial by jury.

Making his submission in Holmes's long-awaited appeal, Kenneth Grima said the convict was no drug baron, but someone who could not even afford a paltry Lm150 rent that was always paid by his parents, and who still owed his landlord Lm400 in water and electricity bills.

Grima said that Holmes had not even figured in the investigation of his flatmate Barry Lee, who had been shadowed by the police, until they arrested Homes driving Lee's car, where they found him smoking a cannabis joint. Upon his arrest, Holmes led the police to his apartment where cannabis plants were found.

The defence said that no search warrants were presented at the time of the search, which took place only because Holmes led them to the apartment. "Contrary to what was implied in the first judgement, Holmes did not cooperate because he was caught red-handed but out of his own free will."

Grima also said that as had been proven in the compilation of evidence, although Holmes and Lee were associates in the cultivation and possession of cannabis, it was Lee who supplied the equipment.

Court expert Godwin Sammut's report also weighed the plants found in their totality, including the roots and stalks, amounting to 1,063g - but under oath he stated that this was the weight of the leaves alone, which would lead to a street value of €13,800.

Grima also said that since Holmes's conviction, the law had changed so that first-time offenders are not liable to criminal proceedings. But the judge had delivered a prison sentence that was 40% harsher over the eight years requested by the prosecution.

The case, which generated a public outcry over the harsheness of the sentence, led to a public petition. Judges Joseph Zammit McKeon, Abigail Lofaro and David Scicluna, who are presiding over the court of criminal appeal, however told the defence that the petition was irrelevant to the appeal.

Holmes, who spent 14 months under preventive arrest, had managed to kick his habit, found a job as a chef, and was in a stable relationship with a Polish woman who had given him a daughter. "Unless the appeal is upheld, the child will be nearly 10 years when she sees her father again," Grima said. "All this because a habitual drug addict, a victim of circumstance, a sick man in need of help, found help at a late stage and is now being penalised in a way that not even hardened criminals, killers and rapists are not dealt with," Grima argued.

Judges Joseph Zammit McKeon, David Scicluna and Abigail Lofaro are presiding. Dr Maxine Bonnet appeared for the Attorney General while lawyers Kenneth and Christina Grima appeared for Holmes.

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Indeed, at the time of his final detention, Daniel had been working for several years as a well respected chef; he had a wife and 3-month old daughter. He had completely changed his life. We hope this is recognised by the appeal court.
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Indeed, at the time of his final detention, Daniel had been working for several years as a well respected chef; he had a wife and 3-month old daughter. He had completely changed his life. We hope this is recognised by the appeal court.
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Keep this in mind: rape, murder and defiling a child are highly criminal offences in all developed countries, and rightly so. On the other hand growing this harmless plant is now completely legal in 2 US states, and decriminalized in many other countries and there the trend is for more countries to follow suit. Yet in Malta the latter is more harshly persecuted then the former. When are we going to move forward?
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As far as I know our laws stipulate that minimum for a drug trafficking conviction is 6-month in prison and/or a fine. The definition for "drug trafficking" in our laws constitutes that: (1) cannabis is a prohibited drug; (2) growing, holding in possession of excessive quantities for personal use, manufacturing and importing into Malta even in minimal quantities)is trafficking! So this piece by Chris Mangion is totally misleading and completely out of point. The accused's social state, financial state or family state have absolutely no relevance to the issue. These are matters concerning the accused lack of concern with healthy personal and family management, and should in themselves be punishable under some law or other. Chris Mangion dedicates 3 or 4 words that constitute the crime and a whole article on useless ramble that has absolutely nothing to do with the case except to obscure the minds of your readers. This guy is lucky he did not get a single life sentence out of a potential four after he had decided he had nothing to defend himself with and admited all charges!!
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As far as I know our laws stipulate that minimum for a drug trafficking conviction is 6-month in prison and/or a fine. The definition for "drug trafficking" in our laws constitutes that: (1) cannabis is a prohibited drug; (2) growing, holding in possession of excessive quantities for personal use, manufacturing and importing into Malta even in minimal quantities)is trafficking! So this piece by Chris Mangion is totally misleading and completely out of point. The accused's social state, financial state or family state have absolutely no relevance to the issue. These are matters concerning the accused lack of concern with healthy personal and family management, and should in themselves be punishable under some law or other. Chris Mangion dedicates 3 or 4 words that constitute the crime and a whole article on useless ramble that has absolutely nothing to do with the case except to obscure the minds of your readers.
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Subject: Justice a la Maltaise 1) 10 years' jail for cultivating one cannabis plant. * * * 2) Six years’ Jail for paedophile who turned two boys into ‘male prostitutes’ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/national/Jail-for-paedophile-who-turned-two-boys-into-male-prostitutes-201216 * * * 3: Acquitted of rape, man jailed six years for defiling two young girls http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/courtandpolice/Acquitted-of-rape-man-jailed-six-years-for-defilement-20130114 * * * 4) Alleged paedophile released by courts excerpt: [...according to police (the victim) had been raped...] http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2002/0303/l2.html * * * Conclusion: Destroying a child’s innocence is half as bad as cultivating one plant for personal use
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Let's hope some credibility is restored to the courts with a sensible judgement. It will never give back Mr. Holmes his lost years, but it would at least put an end to this embarrassing farce of a sentence.
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Let us stop this madness of burying a father several years in prison for a minor offense. In Malta we like to appear holy and correct by over-killing someone for a small mistake. Could it be that by trying to be very moralistic, we end up being huge Pharisees? Could it be that we try to be at peace with our consciences by whipping others for breaking the law in a minor way. Yes indeed, let us punish lawbreakers, but let us not throw the Inquisition upon a person who has grown a silly plant!! For heaven's sake, let us not look like a third world intolerant banana republic!