A Briton resident in Ghajnsielem who last month was jailed for 10-and-a-half years and fined €23,000 after he admitted to cultivating cannabis today filed an appeal.

Daniel Holmes had a number of plants which together added up to about a kilogramme of the drug (dry weight).

The court sentence was seen as controversial by a section of the population and a demonstration for cannabis law reform is to be held this Saturday. Organisers are calling for decriminalisation and eventual legalisation of the illegal substance.

In the appeal, defence counsel Kenneth Grima said that the sentence imposed by the court was "far too excessive" given the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

He pointed out that it had not been proved that Mr Holmes was a drug pusher, as claimed by the prosecution.

Mr Holmes had cooperated with the police even before he was asked to, and the Criminal Court had jailed him on the wrong assumption that the weight of the plant was 1,063 grams when this had included the stems and roots, which if excluded would bring the weight o the drug down susbstantially.

Dr Grima said the fact that his client was not a trafficker was proved by his low standard of living - he could not afford his electricity bills and the rent of his small flat was paid by his parents. He was also borrowing a car. When he was arrested he had little more than €100 in cash.

Furthermore, while the forensic expert had given the value of the drug as being €11,693, the court had declared it as being €13,802, leading the judge to impose a higher term of imprisonment.

The lawyer pleaded that the prison term was excessive compared to similar cases, - even higher than some cases of murder, attempted murder, infliction of grievious bodily harm, rape and fraud of millions of euro - and the court had also ignored the time that Holmes spent in preventive custody over this case.

He also pointed out that since this case, Holmes had kicked the drug habit, entered into a relationship and had a daughter whose upbringing he would miss with such a long jail term.

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