THE British football coach jailed for 25 years after being found with harmless CBD vape oil was “tortured” and “tasered” in a hell-hole Dubai prison, he has told a friend.
Billy Hood, 24, was found guilty of possession, selling and drug trafficking after police found just four small bottles of vape oil in his car.
And speaking to a friend after his arrest in January, he described facing horrendous conditions at the notorious Al-Barsha jail in Dubai.
Football agent Alfie Cain, says Billy was beaten daily for five days as officers from Dubai’s CID tried to force the young coach to confess to drug crimes.
“It's been bad in 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 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 little bit of water.
“He was basically tortured and put in a cell with 30 other people for five days.”
Billy told Alfie, also 24, he only signed the drug trafficking confession because officers told him 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, 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.”
According to Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organisation, Al-Barsha was named as one of three detention facilities across the country where prisoners live in poor conditions.
Their findings claimed family members said prisoners at Al-Barsha have been denied adequate medical care and that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions make hygiene practices very difficult especially during the pandemic.
Vaping CBD oil is legal in the UK and has become extremely popular – typically 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 thrown in prison 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 offences of selling and trafficking the oil.
'100 PER CENT INNOCENT'
And last week shocked Billy, from Ladbroke Grove, London, was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Heartbroken Billy’s mum Breda, told The Sun: “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 tears forming in my eyes. It's too hard to take in.
Mum-of-three Breda, 55, said: “This is not our Billy, he is 100 per cent innocent. “There has been no help from the embassy. We have been in touch with them non-stop. I've contacted them every day. The most I've got from them is that 'he's ok'.”
In a statement through his lawyers, Billy said he had just moved to Dubai to coach kids' football and was arrested when he went to get something from his car.
“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,” he said.
“They demanded to 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.”
The police had told Billy they were interested in him because of something they had seen on social media.
Convinced they had the wrong man, Billy allowed officers to search his apartment and car and submitted to a voluntary drugs test which came back negative.
Officers found a few thousand pounds in cash in his apartment which Billy says was money from his new employer while he set a bank account up.
Founder and CEO of pressure group Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, described his treatment and sentence as “extreme”.
She told The Sun: "He had been in prison for four days and was forced and coerced into signing a confession, which is commonplace in Dubai.
It's incredible, 25 years for having an oil that can't even get you high, it's extreme
"Being in possession of CBD oil would be a very very small sentence, possibly a few years maximum, but because they've added trafficking and selling in there it has become 25 years.
"The only evidence is the confession which was in Arabic and he didn't know what he was signing.
"It's incredible, 25 years for having an oil that can't even get you high, it's extreme."
Ms Stirling says a lawyer for Billy will lodge an appeal and her organisation plans to lobby the British government for help in a bid to have the sentence overturned.
There is zero tolerance for drug-related offences in the UAE.
The penalties for trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) are severe.
Sentences for drug trafficking can include the death penalty and possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs can lead to a minimum four-year jail sentence.
Billy's family has set up a GoFundMe page which has so far raised almost £11,000.
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