A British football coach has been jailed for 25 years after being found with harmless CBD vape oil, “tortured” and “photographed” in a Dubai prison, he has told a friend.
Billy Hood, 24, was found guilty of possessing, selling and drug trafficking after police found only four small bottles of vape oil in his car.
And speaking to a friend after his arrest in January, he described the horrific conditions he faced at Dubai’s infamous Al-Barsha prison.
Football agent Alfie Cain says Billy was beaten daily for five days as Dubai’s CID officials tried to force the youth coach to confess to drug offenses.
“It’s been bad at Al-Barsha, I’m not going to sugar coat it,” said Alfie, a former non-league footballer from London.
“When they took him to the CID drugs unit they beat him up for five whole days, he told me that the police officers teased him, slapped him in the face and all they fed was roti and a little water .
“He was basically tortured and kept in a cell with 30 others for five days.”
Billy told Alfie, 24, he only signed the drug trafficking confession because the authorities told him that if he signed the document written in Arabic, they would stop the abuse.
“Billy said they told him he could go home if he signed the paper, so he signed that piece of paper in Arabic and had no idea what he was signing, but he could wanted to stop.”
According to Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, al-Barsha was designated as one of three detention facilities nationwide where prisoners live in poor conditions.
Their findings claimed that family members said prisoners in al-Barsha have been denied adequate medical care and that overcrowded and unsanitary conditions make sanitation practices very difficult, especially during the pandemic.
Vaping CBD oil is legal in the UK and has become extremely popular – commonly used to relieve pain, anxiety or stress.
But because it sometimes contains trace elements of THC – the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis – Billy, 24, was arrested and jailed under the UAE’s medieval drug laws.
After his arrest on January 31, campaigners say Billy was forced to sign a false confession written in Arabic, admitting to the more serious offenses of selling and smuggling oil.
‘100 percent innocent’
And last week Billy of Ladbroke Grove, London, was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Breda, the mother of heartbroken Billy, said: “I don’t think there’s a word in the dictionary that describes the pain I’m going through.
“I can’t talk about it without having tears in my eyes. Very difficult to get in.
Mum-of-three Breda, 55, said: “It’s not our Billy, he’s 100 percent innocent.
“There has been no help from the embassy. We are in constant touch with them. I have contacted him everyday. The most I got from him is ‘he is fine’.
In a statement through his lawyers, Billy said he had gone to Dubai to coach a children’s football and was arrested when he went to collect something from his car.
“They jumped in to arrest me, handcuffed me. An officer jumped up and pointed a taser at me and threatened to use it if I didn’t cooperate.
“They demanded to show them where the drugs are. I was shocked, scared and confused. I told them that I am not aware of this or that I do not have any drugs or substances.”
The police had told Billy that they were interested in him because of what they had seen on social media.
Believing they had the wrong man, Billy allows officers to search his apartment and car and submits for a voluntary drugs test that came back negative.
Officers found a few thousand pounds of cash in his apartment, which Billy says was money from his new employer when he set up a bank account.
Radha Sterling, the founder and CEO of the pressure group, who was detained in Dubai, described his treatment and punishment as “extreme”.
He explained: “He was in jail for four days and was forced to sign a confession, which is common in Dubai.
It’s unbelievable, 25 years to be an oil that can’t even get you high, that’s extreme
Radha Sterling, CEO of the CEO detained in Dubai
“Being in possession of CBD oil would be a very short sentence, possibly a few years at most, but because they combined smuggling and sale, it has been 25 years.
“The only evidence is the confession which was in Arabic and he did not know what he was signing.
“It’s unbelievable, 25 years to be an oil that can’t even get you high, that’s extreme.”
Ms Sterling says a lawyer for Billy will file an appeal and her organization plans to lobby the British government for help to have the sentence overturned.
The UAE has zero tolerance for drug-related crimes.
Penalties for smuggling, smuggling and drug possession (even balance) are severe.
Punishment for drug trafficking can include the death penalty and possession of even the smallest amount of illicit drugs can lead to a prison sentence of at least four years.
Billy’s family has established a gofundme page Which has raised around £11,000 so far.
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