Exclusive: Philip Halliday shares his story
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:40PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:53PM AST
Philip Halliday is settling back in with his family in Digby, N.S. after he arrived home from Spain on the weekend.
In December 2009, Halliday was arrested off the coast of Spain after $600 million worth of drugs was discovered in the hull of a ship he was crewing.
“They were shooting at the boat and hollering ‘Stop the boat! Stop the ship!’” Halliday tells CTV News.
“I was on my hands and knees and I heard something behind me and I tried to move around the corner and they just slammed me on the floor, tied my hands behind my back.”
For more than three years, the 56-year-old fisherman ate and slept next to child molesters and murderers in a Spanish prison.
“I wasn’t there to judge anybody. I had to live with them.”
Last week, Halliday was convicted of importing cocaine. Despite his conviction, Halliday was released from the jail and is now back with his family.
Today, he told them about one of the three prisons in which he spent time and shared some sketches drawn by a fellow inmate.
“The last prison I was at, the living conditions were pretty good. Other than in the winter they was running out of money so they couldn’t put no heat on. It was pretty cold.”
Even with Halliday’s failing health, he says that wasn’t the most difficult part of the ordeal.
“Missing my family and friends.”
Halliday maintains his innocence, saying he had no idea drugs were hidden on the boat. As soon as he gets settled in, he plans to launch an appeal.
“What they have decided, they as in Spain, it doesn’t matter to us,” says his wife, Sheree Halliday. “And by the looks of the hundreds of people that lined the streets to meet us Sunday afternoon, they don’t care either.”
The people of Digby and surrounding communities rallied behind the Hallidays throughout the ordeal. The family says they received 60 phone calls over a 24-hour period from people offering their support.
Peter Dickie of the Halliday Family Support Society is among those raising money for the family.
“We have an innocent man. I believe with all my heart that Philip is innocent.”
The Hallidays have racked up $150,000 in legal bills and were forced to sell their home.
Despite the hardships, Sheree refused to give up.
“I never lost hope. There’s always hope. In any situation there’s always hope,” she says.
“Sometimes I was down, really down,” says Halliday. “She’d bring me up.”
The Hallidays plan to hold a meet-and-greet in Digby on Sunday to thank the community for their support.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell