A 24-year-old football coach from the UK has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after Dubai police discovered four small bottles of CBD oil in his car.
Billy Hood was coerced into signing a confession in Arabic, has been prosecuted for trafficking, supplying and possession, and has been held at the police station for nine months now.
To make the situation even worse, the CBD oil was left in his car by a friend he’d driven to the airport two weeks earlier. In fact, fitness fanatic Billy is staunchly against drugs.
In a statement to lawyers, Billy, who was arrested on the 31st of January 2021, described what happened, “I had just moved to a new home in Dubai and a friend of mine came around to see my new place.
“I ordered a food delivery then went to my car to get a second phone charger for him to use when I was suddenly approached by police.
“They jumped out to arrest me, handcuffed me. One officer jumped out and pointed a taser at me, threatening to use it if I didn’t cooperate.
“They demanded I show them where the drugs are. I was shocked, scared and confused. I told them I wasn’t aware or in possession of any drugs or substances.”
Sure they had the wrong man, Billy allowed the detective to search his company car, where they found four small bottles of vape oil and a vape pen in the passenger area.
Billy explained his friend from England had visited a couple of weeks ago and must have left it there on the way to the airport and that he was not aware of its presence.
After a urine drug test came out negative, Billy was asked to sign a document in Arabic. He kindly asked for an English translation but the officer replied, laughingly, “If you do not sign, you will never leave CID”.
Two days later, Billy agreed to sign the document.
The next evening, he was taken to Al Barsha police station and kept in an isolation cell for 14 days without any hygiene products and no contact with the outside world.
“I coach football 6-7 days a week. I am always working with kids and in schools all over Dubai. From age 16, I played football at a professional level for more than 2 years. I have always had a zero tolerance on any drugs or illegal substances,” Billy says.
Billy’s brother Alexander is fighting for his freedom and has set up a GoFundMe page for his brother.
Alexander says: “It’s been difficult to cope with Billy’s ongoing detention and the idea that he could be in a UAE prison until he’s 50. Our mother, Breda, is beside herself. It’s just not something anyone envisions happening to their own family. How could we?
“Billy is a healthy, fitness focussed guy. Unlike other kids, mum never had to worry about him getting into drugs or smoking. We never thought for a moment that going to Dubai could be a one way ticket for him.
“It’s one thing if you’ve done something wrong but a whole other story when your life is being ruined as though you’re a criminal when you’re not”.
Not the first
Billy’s situation is not unique. British veteran Andy Neal was detained for over a year on drugs charged before finally being exonerated of all charges.
According to DetainedInDubai.org, “The UAE promotes itself as a glamorous ‘party place’ to foreigners with marketing designed to lure over investors, skilled labour and tourists.
“People have been arrested for legal prescription medicine, for specs of dust or because of an association to someone, a false allegation, for having a glass of wine on a flight or trace elements of hashish consumed outside the country that are still present in the system.”