A Brit footballer jailed over a CBD vape oil scandal in Dubai has launched a desperate bid for freedom.
The family of Billy Hood, 24, has exploded his “ridiculous arrest” after he was found guilty of possessing, selling and drug trafficking after having only four small bottles of vape oil in his car.
A friend of Billy’s from Ladbroke Grove in London has said he was “tortured” and “photographed” in a prison in Dubai.
Billy has now launched an appeal against his sentence with the help of preachers detained in Dubai.
According to group CEO Radha Sterling “it is very clear” the court “never heard Billy’s defence”.
“The prosecution’s evidence that Billy was ‘selling drugs’ depends entirely on Billy having £4,000 in cash in his apartment and they are fully aware that this was paid for by his employer for his coaching job. There was money,” she said.
In relation to the charge of possession, she said “social media communications confirm that the bottles did not belong to Billy, did not belong to him and had no interest or desire to keep them in his possession”.
“Billy shouldn’t be punished for his friend’s mistakes,” she said.
“It is appalling that the police accused him of selling drugs and even more appalling that the judge accepted it.”
In a statement, his family said they were “outraged” by the UAE’s claim of “propaganda” in the matter.
“The authorities previously said it was CBD vape ware and now they are calling it something else,” he said.
“It looks like they are trying to save their own terrible reputation after embarrassing the whole nation with this ridiculous arrest.
“Billy’s drug tests all came back negative. Anyone who knows Billy has supported him and his 100% anti-drug policy.
“It is absolutely absurd that the police have not only ruined his life but also defame him and his reputation.
“It is not acceptable that Billy has been held for more than nine months on four small bottles of vape oil that he did not even own and is not interested in.”
Speaking to a friend, Alfie Cain, after his arrest in January, Billy described the horrific conditions he faced in Dubai’s infamous Al-Barsha prison.
Football agent Alfie says Billy was beaten daily for five days as Dubai’s CID officials tried to force the youth coach to confess to drug offenses.
“It’s been bad at 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 up for five whole days, he told me that the police officers teased him, slapped him in the face and all they fed was roti and a little water .
“He was basically tortured and kept in a cell with 30 others for five days.”
Billy told Alfie, 24, he only signed the drug trafficking confession because the authorities 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 signed that piece of paper in Arabic and had no idea what he was signing, but he wanted to stop.”
Human Rights Watch has condemned the overcrowding and unhygienic conditions in the prison.
Vaping CBD oil is legal in the UK and has become extremely popular – commonly used to relieve pain, anxiety or stress.
But because it sometimes contains trace elements of THC – the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis – Billy was arrested and jailed under the UAE’s harsh 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 offenses of selling and smuggling oil.
Breda, the mother of heartbroken Billy, said: “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 having tears in my eyes. Very difficult to get in.
Mum-of-three Breda, 55, said: “It’s not our Billy, he’s 100 percent innocent.”
In a statement through his lawyers, Billy said he had gone to Dubai to coach a children’s football and was arrested when he went to collect something from his car.
“They jumped in to arrest me, handcuffed me. An officer jumped up and pointed a taser at me and threatened to use it if I didn’t cooperate.
“They demanded to show them where the drugs are. I was shocked, scared and confused. I told them that I am not aware of this or that I do not have any drugs or substances.”
The police had told Billy that they were interested in him because of what they had seen on social media.
Believing they had the wrong man, Billy allows officers to search his apartment and car and submits for a voluntary drugs test that came back negative.
The UAE has zero tolerance for drug-related crimes.
Penalties for smuggling, smuggling, and even small amounts of drug possession are severe.
Punishment for drug trafficking can include the death penalty and possession of even the tiniest amount of illegal drugs can carry a sentence of at least four years in prison.
Billy’s family has established a gofundme page Which has raised over £17,000 to date.
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