A British man has revealed the sheer terror of facing time inside one of the world‘s most notorious prisons and the death penalty after his arrest in Bali last week.
Pip Holmes, a 45-year-old father from Cornwall in England‘s southwest, was arrested on December 3 as he went to pick up a package sent from Thailand which contained bottles of cannabis oil.
Indonesian police said he received nearly 31g of cannabis oil in the mail and could face the death penalty if convicted. Indonesia has strict drug laws and dozens of convicted smugglers are on death row.
Mr Holmes, who describes himself as an artist and surfer, claims he was caught with just a tiny amount — around 3g — of medicinal THC oil, which he uses to treat his arthritis.
“Marijuana makes a considerable difference to the pain — it‘s not a leisure activity for me,” he told the .
“I knew what I was getting into … I knew there were very strict laws, but I chose to come here anyway because the surf is the best in the world.
“It feels like a great injustice, but I‘m not in the UK, I‘m in Bali, so it‘s my own fault … I‘m afraid because I don‘t know how long it‘s going to be before I can hug my children again. They are the only thing keeping me going right now.”
Mr Holmes was one of five detained foreigners paraded by officials at a news conference in Denpasar, Indonesia last week.
In a written statement, Mr Holmes said he had already been moved from a cramped police cell in Bali to a rehabilitation centre. He told supporters that “for the last few days, each morning I have woken up in a terrible nightmare” and asked for them to donate money to cover his legal fees.
‘Knew what I was getting into‘: Holmes came to Bali to surf. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
“I still can‘t believe that I‘m here and I feel sick with fear,” he wrote.
“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.”
In his desperate plea for help, Mr Holmes said he had been “very stupid” and that he “knew what (he) was getting into”.
“This is Asia, it‘s not like the west. I am guilty under Indonesian law of possession of narcotics, there‘s no denying that,” he wrote.
“Even though medicinal THC is something so widely accepted elsewhere and it was such a small amount, I foolishly crossed the line in a very strict country.
“The only way now to ensure my sentence is something I will survive is to invest in the right legal representation and rehabilitation.”
Mr Holmes said he was hoping to serve a short sentence in rehabilitation before being deported to the UK.
Pip Holmes‘ full statement
Thank you for taking time away from Christmas shopping and making plans for the holidays.
I so wish I could spend this Christmas exchanging gifts and pulling crackers with my loved ones too but as I write these words, I have recently been moved from a cramped Balinese police cell to a rehab facility and although things are looking up, I have no idea what is going to happen to me next. My children have been sending me pictures and voice messages telling me about all the things they want to us do for their birthdays next spring. My family, friends and loved ones are constantly telling me that everything is going to be OK and that they‘re going to get me the help I need.
Get pip back home: The British man has started a funding campaign to help raise legal fees. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
They keep on saying I‘m the strongest person they know and I can get through this. But the truth is, I‘m afraid. I‘ve never been so afraid. It‘s hard to be strong when you read the words “death penalty” in the paper in relation to your story.
I‘m also afraid because I don‘t know how long it‘s going to be before I can hug my children again. They are the only thing keeping me going right now. What I‘d give to read them a story. To surf … to paint … or even just to be able to have a shower. 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. 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 5-15 years in Kerobokan — one of the toughest prisons on earth. Also the news headlines are still ringing in my ears.
The way it goes depends entirely on whether or not we can raise the funds I need to continue paying for my current legal representation and to continue rehabilitation which is where, I hope you come in. I‘ve been in Bali for the last two months, exploring this beautiful island. It‘s been an amazing trip and I‘ve been creating some wonderful art.
On Monday December 3, however, 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. My family and friends have been so amazing though, they are the most wonderful group of people I know, and I feel so very loved despite my circumstances. So far they have paid for my legal representation from their own limited funds however we are not a rich family and funds are now massively depleted.
As I‘m writing this I‘m reading it back and it sounds like one of those ridiculous African scams. I assure you it‘s not, I‘m really here and I‘m really, really scared. This is Asia, it‘s not like the west. I am guilty under Indonesian law of possession of narcotics, there‘s no denying that. Even though medicinal THC is something so widely accepted elsewhere and it was such a small amount, I foolishly crossed the line in a very strict country. The only way now to ensure my sentence is something I will survive is to invest in the right legal representation and rehabilitation.
My legal team are brilliant but expensive. As a regular user of THC for my arthritis pain they are sure that they can keep me in a rehab program for the duration of my sentence, and then …. freedom. The alternative is unthinkable. It sounds very simple, and it is — but going down this route will cost around $100,000 US dollars, spread over the course of my legal battle and treatment for marijuana addiction. I just want to be able to see my kids again. To watch them grow up, to read them stories and squeeze them until they complain. I don‘t want to miss another moment. I want to be able to play with my stupid dogs, and to hug my lady so hard and never ever let her go.
I‘m in tears writing this, my gruff and tough exterior lies in tatters at my feet. I‘m an artist, a writer and a creative at heart but I feel like I have only just begun to fulfil my potential. A few months ago, I was given an incredible opportunity that would change that. If I go to prison or worse it obviously won‘t happen.
If I stay in rehab however, it still can. I am ready to turn my life around and be the father my children deserve. I want my children to see me rise to success and not fall from grace. I‘m not making it home for Christmas, I am resigned to that now, but I‘d really like to make it home for next Christmas, and even more so for my kids birthdays in the spring. I‘ve been praying so hard to just wake up from this nightmare in my own bed, with my face being licked by my dogs, coffee brewing in the kitchen, and all those little things we take for granted. So I‘m reaching out to you to help me get out of this stupid mess I‘ve got myself into.
My family has formed into an incredible team to help me get through this and they‘ve made this donation page to raise the money needed for my legal fees and rehabilitation. But we only have until mid January to raise just over $100,000 US! It‘s a lot of money but I know we can do it with your help. I‘m holding on to that.
In rehab I am allowed to paint, I‘ll get help and when I am deported I‘ll be able to be the father my children deserve. If I go to prison they‘ll grow up with that stigma and without a father and that‘s not something I can live with.
Please help me get through this and get back to them! Once again, thank you so much for your time. Now more than ever, I know how precious that time is.
And thank you so much for any and all support you can give me and my family. I don‘t have the words to explain how grateful I am.