British man jailed for 25 YEARS in Dubai over cannabis oil ‘was beaten to make him sign confession – Daily Mail

0

The British football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car was allegedly tasered and beaten for five days to make him sign a confession, his friend has claimed.

Billy Hood, 24, was arrested in January and convicted by a court of drug trafficking with intent to supply – despite being able to prove the vape liquid belonged to a visiting friend who had mistakenly left it in his car. 

His best friend Alfie Cain, 24, has since claimed Hood told him he was beaten, slapped, and only given bread and small amounts of water while at the Al-Barsha prison by police officers. 

Hood, from Notting Hill, west London, told Cain he only signed a confession to the drugs charges, which was written in Arabic, because officers said if he did the abuse would stop.

Hood’s mother Breda Guckion, 55, also claimed officers laughed in her son’s face as he slept on the floor of a prison cell with 30 others and told him that if he didn’t sign the confession, ‘you’re not getting out of here’.  

Cain, who is a football agent, told The Sun: ‘It’s been bad at Al-Barsha, I’m not going to sugar coat it.

‘When they took him to the CID drugs unit they beat him for an entire five days, he told me police officers tasered him, slapped him in the face and all they fed him was bread and a little water.

‘He was basically tortured and put in a cell with 30 other people for five days.’ 

Family members have said Hood was so frightened and tired that he agreed to sign a confession, written in Arabic, not knowing he had admitted to such serious crimes. 

Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Hood after monitoring WhatsApp messages and looking for key words related to drugs. A week before his arrest the friend who owned the vape liquid sent a message telling Hood he had mistakenly left it behind in his car. 

Billy Hood's best friend Alfie Cain, 24, (pictured) has claimed Hood told him he was beaten, slapped, and only given bread and small amounts of water while at the Al-Barsha jail by police officers

Billy Hood’s best friend Alfie Cain, 24, (pictured) has claimed Hood told him he was beaten, slapped, and only given bread and small amounts of water while at the Al-Barsha jail by police officers

British football coach Billy Hood, 24, from London, (pictured) has been jailed for 25 years in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car

British football coach Billy Hood, 24, from London, (pictured) has been jailed for 25 years in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car

Speaking about Hood’s confession, Cain said: ‘Billy said they told him he could go home if he signed the paper, that’s why he gave in and signed that piece of paper in Arabic he had no idea what he signing, but he just wanted to make it stop.’ 

The claims come after Hood’s mother Breda said that the 25-year prison sentence ‘breaks me every day’.   

Speaking about her son’s prison conditions in Dubai, Breda told Good Morning Britain on Thursday: ‘I know in the beginning they weren’t good, when they made him sign that statement. 

‘I know that he was in a room with 30 others, sleeping on a floor with a blanket, bread and water – nothing else. Until he signed that statement that was in Arabic.

‘I think he did after the fourth or fifth day, but they laughed in his face and said, “Well, if you don’t sign it you’re not getting out of here”.’

Breda admitted that she ‘still had hope’ that Hood would be released from prison, but upon hearing her son would spend a quarter of a century behind bars she said ‘it completely broke me’.

The heartbroken mother said: ‘I think that for the first nine months, even though we knew he had done nothing wrong, we still had that hope.

‘But hearing that it was 25 years, it broke us, it completely broke us.’

Breda, fighting back tears, added: ‘It still breaks me every day just thinking about it. Just seeing his photo breaks me now.’  

Speaking about why the vape liquid was found in his car, she explained: ‘He had dropped off one of his friends at the airport and they had left it in the car. And that’s why it was there.’  

Breda Guckion, 52, said the family had 'hope' that Billy Hood would be released from prison, but upon hearing her son would spend a quarter of a century behind bars she said 'it completely broke them'

Breda Guckion, 52, said the family had ‘hope’ that Billy Hood would be released from prison, but upon hearing her son would spend a quarter of a century behind bars she said ‘it completely broke them’

Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Hood after monitoring WhatsApp messages and looking for key words related to drugs such as ‘CBD’. 

A week before his arrest the friend who owned the vape liquid sent a message telling Hood he had mistakenly left it behind in his car.

Breda said it is thought that the message was intercepted because it had ‘CBD’ in it. She said: ‘Everything we get from them is in Arabic, so we’re finding it hard to translate everything but yes, that’s what they say.’ 

The ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed was last week revealed to have used spyware to hack into the phone of his ex-wife and her lawyer Baroness Shackleton while a custody hearing was taking place at the High Court.

The United Arab Emirates are known to be users of the Israeli made spyware known as Pegasus.

Hood, who played semi-professional football for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC, was stunned when police unexpectedly turned up at his flat in January and demanded to search his home and company car.

Four small vials of vape liquid containing cannabis oil (CBD) and a vape pen were later found in the passenger door compartment.

After his arrest Hood volunteered to take a urine test for drugs which came back negative.

Vape liquid containing CBD ( cannabis oil) is sold by high street stores in the UK and perfectly legal although they must contain less than 0.2% of THC which is the ingredient that leads to users getting ‘high’.

Cannabis and cannabis oil is illegal in Dubai where there is a zero tolerance to drugs.

Hood appeared in a Dubai court last week and sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of drug smuggling, possession and supply.

His mother Breda accused the UK Foreign Office of providing the family with ‘no support’ and made an emotional plea on Thursday for help to get Billy home.

She said: ‘As a mother, and I know a lot of people who know Billy, please, please, if anyone can help get Billy home, please do. That’s all I can ask from you.’

When asked about the case, a Foreign Office spokesperson told MailOnline : ‘We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE.’ 

Breda said she had spoken to Billy about a month ago. She added: ‘That was a three-way call, we can never speak to Billy direct. 

‘It always had to go through the lawyer who would connect to his brother [Alex] and then we would get to speak to him.

‘He always seemed to say, ‘Oh, don’t worry mum. It’ll be alright.’ But the last time that Alex said he spoke to him, he said that he felt like he was broken.’   

Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Billy (left, with his aunt) after monitoring WhatsApp messages as a week before his arrest the friend, who owned the vape liquid, sent a message telling him he had mistakenly left it behind in his car

 Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Billy (left, with his aunt) after monitoring WhatsApp messages as a week before his arrest the friend, who owned the vape liquid, sent a message telling him he had mistakenly left it behind in his car

Billy said in a statement released by his lawyer: ‘I do not smoke vape pens, cigarettes or even sheesha. I am very anti-drugs and spend my days coaching in schools with children.

‘I had just moved to a new home in Dubai and went to get a phone charger from my car when I was suddenly approached by police.

‘They jumped out to arrest me, handcuffed me. One officers pointed a taser at me, threatening to use it if I did not cooperate.

‘They demanded I show them where the drugs were. I was shocked and confused and told them I wasn’t in possession of any drugs.’

Hood said one of the arresting officers said they were interested in him from social media but did not take his phone or computer. He maintains there was no mention of the vape liquid on social media but in one WhatsApp message.

Police also found a few thousand pounds in cash in his flat but Hood’s employers told police they had paid him they money while his bank account was being set up.

The pressure group Detained in Dubai, who are representing the family, believe the only explanation for police turning up unannounced could be authorities monitoring WhatsApp and reading the message about the vape liquid.

Vape liquid containing CBD with less than 0.2% of THC is legal in the UK, but is illegal in Dubai where there is a zero tolerance to drugs (stock image)

Vape liquid containing CBD with less than 0.2% of THC is legal in the UK, but is illegal in Dubai where there is a zero tolerance to drugs (stock image)

Hood was held at a police station for four days where he was told if he did not sign a confession written in Arabic he would never be allowed to leave.

Family members said he was so frightened and tired that he agreed not knowing he had admitted such serious crimes.

His mother Breda said: ‘We didn’t even know Billy was arrested. 

‘It was the fact that he didn’t turn up for work for three days and his boss went to the police station reporting Billy missing that they found out then that he had been locked up. Not even his friends in Dubai knew that he had been arrested.’  

Speaking about her son’s prison conditions in Dubai, Breda added: ‘I know in the beginning they weren’t good, when they made him sign that statement. 

‘I know that he was in a room with 30 others, sleeping on a floor with a blanket, bread and water – nothing else. Until he signed that statement that was in Arabic.

‘I think he did after the fourth or fifth day, but they laughed in his face and said, ‘Well, if you don’t sign it you’re not getting out of here’.’

When Hood appeared before a court last week and was convicted of drug smuggling, possession and supply and given the maximum sentence.

His worried family are pinning their hopes on an appeal next week where lawyers will argue he was bullied into signing the confession and prove there is no evidence that the vape liquid was his. 

His brother Alex told Mail Online: ‘It has been difficult to cope with Billy’s ongoing detention and the idea that he could be in prison until he is 50.

‘You could not meet anyone more fitness focused that Billy. He has never been into drugs and does not even smoke. We never thought moving to Dubai could be a one-way ticket.’ 

Hood’s best friend Alfred Cain told Good Morning Britain: ‘Billy is one of the most positive people that I’ve come across in my life, and when I’ve had the chance to speak to him, he sounds like he’s holding it together.

‘But when you’re in a UAE prison half way across the world, you never know how someone is feeling inside.’ 

Speaking about Hood’s time in Dubai before his arrest, Alfred said: ‘He’d been out there about two years and in the first eight months I remember he came back. 

‘It gets extremely hot out there and he came back for about four months and he was having the time of his life. He had been doing his coaching badges and just wanted to progress as a football coach and then come back here [to the UK] and carry on progressing.’ 

The family are critical of the British Embassy in Dubai who they claim have not visited Billy during the nine months he has been held in jail.

Hood’s mother Breda said: ‘I have hidden myself away crying and crying when I think of what my son is going through.

‘It is impossible that he is involved in drugs and my son does not deserve this and I appeal to Sheikh Mohammed to intervene in this case. My son is innocent.’

Radha Sterling, founder of Detained in Dubai, said: Dubai police’s handing of drugs cases has resulted in numerous unfair detentions of foreign nationals.

‘We have seen people arrested and even convicted without evidence, often on the basis of a forced confession in Arabic or from some third party.

‘Drug convictions are prestigious for police leading to promotions and the courts do not need substantial evidence to secure a conviction. Foreign nationals find it almost impossible to achieve a fair hearing and false allegations are common place.’ 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10091199/Mother-British-man-jailed-25-YEARS-Dubai-cannabis-oil-says-completely-broken.html

Leave a Reply