Globe, United Kingdom

Judges show mercy for Daniel Roque Hall

Daniel Roque Hall, who is thin, bedridden and affected by Friedreich’s Ataxia, successfully challenged his release from hospital back to prison as well as Wormwood Scrubs’ claims that it could look after him properly. He will now spend the rest of his sentence at home, where he will receive proper care.

Daniel Roque

Angela Smith

It is hard to believe that a man who is unable to hold a pen to paper, can barely swallow, and has been bed-ridden for the majority of his life is a criminal who fought against his sentence in order to stay alive.

However, this describes Daniel Roque Hall’s life. Hall, who is thirty, suffers from Friedrich’s Ataxia, which is a fatal illness that leaves him unable to use his arms or legs. He has been confined to a bed and wheelchair for 15 years and requires around the clock care. This disease affects his vision, speech and heart. In addition to this, Hall also suffers from Type 1 diabetes, scoliosis and painful spasms which are treated through massages and stretches.

Hall received full time care at his home in North West London. He was given the right attention that he needed and, though he was restricted in his movements, he was able to enjoy life and the company of his friends, family and fiancé.

Unfortunately, Hall’s situation took a turn for the worst when his wedding was called off just days before it was scheduled. He became depressed after this.

A short time later, Hall was healthy enough to take a vacation to Peru with one of his carers in 2011 but upon his return, he ran into some trouble with the law.

Daniel Roque Hall was arrested in November 2011 at Heathrow for attempting to smuggle 2.8 kg of cocaine from Peru into the UK. Representing Hall, Flo Krause, voiced that he was taken advantage of and was more susceptible to being used as a drug mule because he was in a wheelchair. The cocaine was hidden in the chair’s back.

This being Hall’s first offence, it was stated that Hall did this because he was depressed, and felt as though he had nothing to lose.

Hope for Hall

When Hall was caught, he admitted to what he had done and regretted breaking the law. The judge at his first trial reduced his sentence from seven years to three years, due to his medical situation.

It can be said that a sentence in prison is double the punishment for someone like Hall; especially because of his complex care needs.

Because of the unique situation, Hall’s case had been in the news since last year. Although there were many complications, Hall’s supporters kept high hopes that his trials would lead to his release from hospital and prison.

As a show of support, vigils were held outside the Royal Courts of Justice before each of the trials, and there were numerous pickets there since August. Hall’s friends and supporters were always with him, anticipating that the judges would allow him to spend the rest of his sentence at home.

“I know that Daniel cannot handle being sent back to prison,” stated Anne Hall, Daniel’s mother, “We are hoping for a just decision to be made.”

Unable to physically attend his trials, Daniel Roque Hall was available on video link and was able to listen from his hospital bed. At the trials, it was debated whether or not Wormwood Scrubs was capable of caring for Hall and if it would be moral for the hospital to release him to the prison.

While he was in prison and in hospital, it was required that two trained attendants were available to monitor Hall, 24 hours a day, but it was stated that the attendants could not properly handle Hall’s condition. He received very little privacy and wished to be allowed more time for exercise and education.

Fearful that Hall would go back to prison, Krause voiced her expectations that the hospital and Wormwood Scrubs would make “reasonable adjustments,” such as allowing Hall to have private calling, an environment more conducive to sleep, and the ability to submit complaints, as well as having attendants trained to help him with his standing wheelchair, which had already been requested. Hall endured additional pain and the beginning signs of feet deformities due to the time that he was without the use of his standing wheelchair. It was also believed that Hall had been denied some medication and stretching exercises while at Wormwood Scrubs.

Upon hearing Hall’s story, John Podmore, former governor of Brixton prison, was quoted suggesting that it would be unlikely for any prison to be able to meet Hall’s needs because of his medical conditions, and that if it were to be possible, it would be costly and require outside help.

Anita Castelino, one of Hall’s former carers, and Hall’s other supporters were always very worried about his condition while in prison, and this was for good reason.

Just seven weeks into his sentence, Hall was experiencing heart problems and collapsed. He was taken to intensive care due to his drastically worsening condition and remained in hospital since then. Family and friends noted his rapid deterioration after being taken into custody, stating that he had lost at least 12 kg in those first seven weeks.

“The life expectancy for someone like Daniel is about 35 or 40 years old. He is already 30 and we know that the prison cannot support his needs,” stated Kaleem Naeen, who formerly took care of Hall and is his good friend.

Previously, Daniel Roque Hall won an extension of the emergency injunction that prevented UCLH from discharging him to Wormwood Scrubs Prison. His family and friends feared that if he was to be taken back to prison, he would die because of insufficient care.

“It was a three year sentence, not a death sentence,” cried Anita Castelino and other picketers who were surrounded by signs to promote justice for Daniel while at one of the vigils. “The prison environment is just not sustainable to Daniel’s health.”

The final judgment

Mrs. Hall and the rest of Hall’s family, supporters and friends were pleasantly surprised on Friday, 8th of February, when Lord Justice Hughes, Mr. Justice Wyn Williams and Mr. Justice Hickinbottom substituted his sentence for the lesser term of 18 months. Daniel Roque Hall is now able to spend the rest of his sentence at home, where he will receive proper care from his family, carers and friends.

Hall’s mother was especially glad to hear this news after everything that she and her son have been through.

The judges must have realized that prison was no place for Daniel Roque Hall, and gave him an “application of mercy.”

Happy to hear this news, Hall was moved back to his North West London home on Saturday, 9th of February, where he will live out the rest of his sentence.

Although Hall is now at home, he is required to surrender his two passports to the police- one being British and the other, Nicaraguan. Of course, he is not allowed to travel abroad for three years, starting from his original date of conviction.

These precautions were taken in order to prevent any temptation of further offending the law.

Hall will be under 24 hour care while at home, and his health will hopefully improve to where it was before he went to prison.

“It would be best for him to be back home, where his family and friends can make the last remaining years of his life as comfortable as possible” stated Kaleem Naeen.

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