A British man says his ‘children will grow up without a father’ as he faces 15 years in a Bali prison after being caught with liquid cannabis he claims he uses for arthritis.
Pip Holmes, 45, was arrested for drug smuggling in December after he went to collect a package from Thailand that contained 31g of medicinal THC oil poured into essential oil bottles.
Holmes faces being sent to Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison.
The avid surfer has two children, an eight-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, who live in the UK with his ex-wife, Michelle.
Scroll down for video
Pip Holmes with his daughter and son before his arrest, he said: ‘If I go to prison my children will grow up without a father’
Pip Holmes (second from right) was paraded by Balinese authorities in December alongside four other foreigners – unconnected to his case – accused of drug smuggling
Pip’s former wife Michelle has appealed for help to raise £20,000 for him to get a lawyer who can liberate him from the Bali prison
They have set-up a campaign to ‘Get Pip Back Home‘ and are seeking to raise £20,000 to pay for legal fees.
His family have uploaded a video to raise awareness to his plight.
Holmes, an artist and surfer from Cornwall, had been living in Bali for two months when he was arrested in early December.
He says he was aware of the penalty he would face in Indonesia, which has extremely strict anti-drug laws and regularly arrests foreigners on drug-related offences.
‘I foolishly crossed the line in a very strict country,’ he said.
‘This is Asia, it’s not like the West, and although medical marijuana is prescribed and widely recognised elsewhere, I am guilty under Indonesian law.’
He added: ’I am extremely sorry for my actions which have had a huge impact on my family.
‘This experience has really been a sharp wake up call. I still can’t believe I’m here and I feel sick with fear.
‘What I wouldn’t give to hug my children again or read them a story, to surf, to play with my stupid dogs and to hug my lady so hard and never ever let her go.’
Holmes vowed that when he is free again, he’ll ‘be able to be the father my children deserve.’
He said: ‘The only way this will be possible is to continue to invest in the right legal representation.
‘If I go to prison my children will grow up without a father.’
His children have launched a ‘Walk for Freedom’ campaign urging people to sponsor them to walk 5,000 steps a day until February 12.
Pip – an artist and surfer – was arrested for drug smuggling in Bali after being found with cannabis oil
Holmes was arrested after going to pick up the package he had asked a friend to send from Thailand.
He was transferred to a police hospital rehabilitation facility following six days in a police cell after his lawyers argued he was a drug user as opposed to a trafficker.
Nevertheless, Holmes still faces a drug trafficking charge – which can carry the death penalty in Indonesia.
But he is hoping that will not be the case because the amount of drugs he was caught with so was small.
He claims the 31g of cannabis that police reported he was found with included the weight of the essential oil bottles, which were 28g.
On his arrest, he was paraded by Indonesian authorities along with four others accused of smuggling drugs in a press conference he described as ‘bizarre’ and ‘harrowing.’
He was pictured in a balaclava which was later removed alongside the four men – a Malaysian, a Peruvian, a German and a Chinese man.
Bali police said they had been arrested separately in unconnected cases of drugs smuggling.
Relaxed rules mean that medical cannabis products can now be legally prescribed to some patients in the UK. However, access remains limited.
Holmes says he has had arthritis for eight years, which he claims was caused by years of Thai boxing.
He previously told the BBC: ‘Marijuana makes a considerable difference to the pain – it’s not a leisure activity for me.’
Pip with his daughter – who is now eight-years-old – his children are bravely campaigning with their mother to bring Pip home
But despite knowing how strict Indonesia is about drugs, he took the risk.
‘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,’ he said.
Foreigners are regularly caught trying to bring drugs into Bali, which draws millions of visitors annually.
There are dozens of traffickers on death row in Indonesia, including a cocaine-smuggling British grandmother, an American caught with crystal methamphetamine, and several west African inmates sentenced to death for drug crimes.
High-profile cases like that of Australian Schapelle Corby, who spent more than nine years behind bars for smuggling marijuana into Bali, have stoked concern that Indonesia is becoming a destination for trafficked drugs.
Corby was deported in 2017 after several years of parole.