The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Daniel Holmes files appeal, says rights were violated by court

Therese Bonnici Tuesday, 28 October 2014, 10:48 Last update: about 6 years ago

37-year-old Daniel Holmes, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of possessing and trafficking cannabis, is claiming that his rights were violated during court proceedings. In his appeal, Mr Holmes argues that the case should have been heard in a magistrate's court and not in front of a jury, that the legal aid appointed was incompetent and that the final sentence was unfair when compared to similar cases.

In the constitutional appeal, which is being filed against the Attorney General, the police commissioner and the director of the court in Gozo, Holmes argues that the sentence is disproportionate and goes against the European convention, adding that there is lack of uniformity in drug sentences handed out.  He is also stating that he was refused legal aid during interrogation and access to his own file, and states that during that time period, Malta was the only country which lacked such rights for those arrested.

A recent amendment to legislation states that one can contest the Attorney General on the decision of whether the case is heard in a magistrate's court or in front of a judge. In a magistrate's court, one can be sentenced to a maximum of ten years, where as in front of a judge; one can be sentenced to a minimum of four years, and a maximum of life sentence.

Holmes also argued that in Gozo, where his case was heard, there is insufficient legal aids, and none specialize in the complexity of cases such as his. He  said that because of this, he had to seek financial help from third parties to be able to appoint a private lawyer.

On 24 November 2011, Mr Holmes was sentenced to 10 years and a half in prison, and fined €23,000 for drug possession and trafficking. A cannabis plant was found in his home in Gozo. The sentence was again confirmed by the criminal appeal court in October 2013, after he appealed. Mr Holmes had pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. Earlier this month, he was compensated €7,000 after a long wait for his case to be heard.



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