Father in bid to have Thai jail man’s UK sentence cut

February 3, 2012
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The father of a convicted drug smuggler, who has been returned to the UK from Thailand to serve out his sentence, has explained why he believes his son is being overly-punished.

Mr Derek Connell is campaigning for his son’s remaining jail term to be reduced.

He claims that the British government is making his son, Michael, serve a further six years in custody in the UK before he can apply for release.

But he argues 27-year-old Michael should only spend two years in a British jail.

Michael, who had lived in Kestrel Drive, was originally jailed for 99 years after being caught in possession of 3,400 ecstasy tablets at Bangkok Airport in 2003. The original term was reduced to 30 years on appeal and subsequently to 20 years.

Michael’s father claims that a life sentence given to a British prisoner abroad is classed as 10 years by the UK government. Therefore, he argues that because his son has spent eight years in a Thai jail, he should only serve a final two years in a British prison.

Mr Connell said: “The law was changed here in 2008. Now, any prisoners coming back to the UK from a foreign jail, who are not lifers, must serve half of the remainder of their sentence.

“Because Michael’s sentence had been reduced to 20 years and he’s served eight, that means the remaining 12 has been halved to six by the government.

“But I feel he should be classified as a lifer and, if that was the case, he’d only have to serve an additional two years. In effect, the government has increased his sentence.”

Mr Connell, aged 56, of Almond Avenue, Bury, has written to the Lord Chief Justice and MPs asking that Michael’s jail term in the UK be reduced from six years to two years.

When his son returned to the UK, it was the first time Mr Connell had seen Michael since the prisoner’s 21st birthday.

Asked how Michael had fared in the notorious Bangkwang prison, dubbed the “Bangkok Hilton,” Mr Connell said: “He coped admirably with it. He’s very grown up. He committed the crime and has never denied it. When he came back to the UK, he felt it was very cold.”

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