The wife of a British man arrested for allegedly smuggling cannabis oil in Bali has made an emotional appeal for his release, saying he “made a mistake but doesn’t deserve five to 15 years in prison.”
Michelle Holmes, 41, said her husband, Pip, 45, knew he had “crossed the line” but said he was a “good man with a good heart” who had used the medicinal cannabis oil to treat severe arthritis that required a titanium hip replacement six years ago.
“He would not have done this unless he was in a lot pain,” said Ms Holmes, the mother of his two children aged 11 and eight who has been separated from her husband for a year.
The family have launched a Just Giving appeal to raise $100,000 help pay his legal fees in the hope that they can negotiate a lesser penalty in return for him agreeing to rehabilitation.
“My children deserve a father. He is going to be there when they are growing up. He made a really stupid mistake. He knows that,” said Ms Holmes, who married her husband 12 years ago and ran a gallery with him in Plymouth.
His mother, family and friends have so far contributed to the legal fees. “If we can raise the money, it’s entirely possible he could go through rehabilitation,” said Ms Holmes. “I know it’s a difficult time of year to be making appeals.”
Mr Holmes was one of five foreigners paraded at a news conference last week in Denpasar and has said he is «sick with fear». Indonesian police say he received nearly 31g of cannabis oil in the mail and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Mr Holmes claims he was caught with just 3g of medicinal THC oil, which he uses to treat his arthritis. He was arrested on December 3 as he went to pick up a package from Thailand which contained essential oil bottles with cannabis oil inside.
A message from Mr Holmes on the crowdfunding site said he had already been moved from a cramped police cell in Bali to a rehabilitation centre and has been helped by messages of support from his family.
«For the last few days, each morning I have woken up in a terrible nightmare. I still can’t believe that I’m here and I feel sick with fear,» he said.
He continued: «As it stands, I don’t know if I’m about to spend a few months in a rehabilitation or if I’m about to face five to 15 years in Kerobokan – one of the toughest prisons on earth.»
Mr Holmes said he had been in Bali for two months before his arrest on December 3. Despite his lawyers arguing he was a drug user – after he failed a drugs test – rather than a trafficker, he still faces the trafficking charge according to the BBC. However he told the broadcaster he did not fit this category, arguing «the law is very different in Bali and very harsh».
Mr Holmes says although the police reported that he was found with 31g of medicinal THC oil, that weight included the bottles which weighed 28g.
«It all went terribly wrong when I was arrested for possession of a tiny amount of THC oil. Stupid much? Yes very very stupid. Right now I feel helpless and very alone,» he said.