Briton jailed 25 years in Dubai 'cut off from family and lawyers'

Briton jailed 25 years in Dubai for possessing CBD vape oil ‘has been cut off from family and lawyers’ after claiming he had evidence police had framed him

  • Billy Hood, 24, was arrested in UAE in January and convicted for drug trafficking 
  • The football coach’s relatives claim he has been ‘cut off from family and lawyers’
  • Comes after Mr Hood claimed he had evidence that he was framed by UAE police
  • An appeal against the 25-year sentence is set to come to court on November 30

A British football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai for possessing CBD vape oil has been ‘cut off from his family and lawyers’ after claiming he had evidence police had framed him. 

Billy Hood, 24, was arrested in January and convicted by a court of drug trafficking with intent to supply. He was jailed in Dubai but later transferred to prison in Abu Dhabi after claims emerged he could prove the vape liquid belonged to a visiting friend who had mistakenly left it in his car. 

His family today said they have been allowed ‘zero contact with him’ since his transfer and that ‘he has not even been able to get in touch with his lawyer’. 

Hood, from Notting Hill, West London, is appealing the 25-year sentence, with the case set to come before a court on November 30, following a six-week delay. 

But Radha Stirling, CEO of pressure group Detained in Dubai – an organisation that helps foreign nationals arrested in the emirate – has warned the UAE’s judicial process can be ‘unpredictable and unexpected delays are commonplace’. 

Hood’s mother Breda today told Stirling: ‘I can’t imagine what he’s going through now. He’s been moved from pillar to post and was just finally relieved to be with other British citizens in Dubai when they suddenly moved him to Abu Dhabi. 

‘He’s going through the most stressful time in his entire life and can’t even communicate with his family, his lawyer or the British Embassy.’

Billy Hood, (pictured) the British football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai for possessing CBD vape oil has been ‘cut off from his family and lawyers’ after claiming he had evidence police had framed him

Hood, 24, (pictured with his grandmother) was arrested in January, convicted by a Emirati court of drug trafficking with intent to supply and sentenced to 25 years behind bars

Stirling has accused the UAE of forming a ‘manufactured a case’ against Hood, but the emirate has denied this, saying that he has been charged based on a number of items found in his vehicle.

Before his transfer, Hood’s best friend Alfie Cain, 24, claimed he told him he was slapped, tasered, beaten for five days to make him sign a confession and only given bread and small amounts of water while at the Al-Barsha prison. 

Hood, 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’.   

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.  

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’

A statement from the UAE Public Prosecution said: ‘Mr. Hood was found to be in possession of quantities of synthetic cannabis oil. 

‘The Police search of Mr Hood’s vehicle found the cannabis oil, substantial amounts of cash, an electronic hookah, various storage bottles and boxes, and 570 individual cartridges to be used for substance vaping.

‘Mr. Hood was convicted based on evidence including the items found in his possession, information on his phone, third party statement, and his own confession.’  

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. 

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 in October: ‘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.’   

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

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 in October and sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of drug smuggling, possession and supply. 

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.’

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 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.

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 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.’  

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.’

Stirling 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.’ 

Before his transfer, Hood’s best friend Alfie Cain, 24, claimed he told him he was slapped, tasered, beaten for five days to make him sign a confession and only given bread and small amounts of water while at the Al-Barsha prison (pictured)

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