The British football coach jailed for 25 years after being found with harmless CBD vape oil was “tortured” and “tasted” in a Dubai prison in hell, he told a friend.
Billy Hood, 24, was convicted of drug possession, sale and trafficking after police found only four small bottles of vaping oil in his car.
And speaking to a friend after his arrest in January, he described how he faced horrendous conditions at the famous Al-Barsha jail in Dubai.
Soccer agent Alfie Cain says Billy was beaten daily for five days as Dubai CID agents tried to force the young coach to confess to his drug offenses.
“It’s been bad at Al-Barsha, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” said Alfie, a former footballer from outside the league in London.
“When they took him to the CID drug unit, they beat him for five full days, he told me that the policemen beat him, slapped him, and the only thing they gave him to eat was bread and a little water.
“He was basically tortured and put in a cell with 30 other people for five days.”
Billy told Alfie, also 24, that he only signed the drug trafficking confession because officers 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 gave in and signed that paper in Arabic that he had no idea what he was signing but just wanted to stop him.”
According to Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, Al-Barsha was named as one of three detention centers across the country where prisoners live in poor conditions.
Their findings claimed that family members said inmates in Al-Barsha have been denied adequate medical care and that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions make hygiene practices difficult, especially during the pandemic.
CBD oil for vaping is legal in the UK and has become extremely popular, generally used to relieve pain, anxiety or stress.
But because it sometimes contains trace elements of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis, 24-year-old Billy was arrested and incarcerated under the medieval drug laws of the United Arab Emirates.
After his arrest on January 31, activists say Billy was forced to sign a bogus confession written in Arabic admitting to the most serious crimes of oil sale and trafficking.
And last week Billy, from Ladbroke Grove, London, shocked, was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Breda, Billy’s mother, heartbroken, told The Sun: “I don’t think there is a word in the dictionary that describes the pain I’m going through.
“I can’t talk about it without tears coming to my eyes. It is too difficult to assimilate.
Breda, a 55-year-old mother of three, said: “This is not our Billy, he is 100% innocent.
“There has been no help from the embassy. We have been in contact with you non-stop. I have contacted you every day. The most I’ve gotten from them is that ‘he’s fine.’
In a statement through his lawyers, Billy said that he had just moved to Dubai to coach children’s soccer and was arrested when he went to get something from his car.
“They jumped in to arrest me, they handcuffed me. An officer jumped up and pointed a taser gun 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 that I did not know or was in possession of any drugs or substances. “
The police had told Billy that 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 underwent a voluntary drug 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 while opening a bank account.
The founder and CEO of the Dubai detained pressure group, Radha Stirling, described her treatment and sentencing 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 common in Dubai.
It’s amazing, 25 years for having an oil that can’t even get you high, it’s extreme
Radha Stirling, Executive Director of Detainees in Dubai
“Being in possession of CBD oil would be a very, very small sentence, possibly a few years at the most, but because they added the traffic and the sale there, it has become 25 years.”
“The only proof is the confession that was in Arabic and I didn’t know what I was signing.
“It’s incredible, 25 years for having an oil that can’t even get you high, it’s extreme.”
Stirling says a lawyer for Billy will appeal and that his organization plans to pressure the British government to help him in an attempt to overturn the sentence.
There is zero tolerance for drug-related crimes in the UAE.
Penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling, and possession (including 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 sentence of four years in jail.
Billy’s family has created a GoFundMe page which has so far raised nearly £ 11,000.
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