BBC 5 Live - Billy Hood Appeal with Radha Stirling and Breda Guckion - Detained in Dubai over CBD
ITV Report:1 December 2021
A British football coach handed a 25-year sentence in a Dubai prison after being found with four bottles of CBD vape oil has had his sentenced reduced to 10 years on appeal. Billy Hood, 25, from Kensington, London, was arrested shortly after moving to the county in January this year after being found with four small bottles of CBD vape oil in his car. The liquid - which is legal in the UK - contains trace elements of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, which is illegal in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai authorities took a signed confession from the football coach, but the 24-year-old said he was coerced into agreeing to the document - which was also written in Arabic, a language he cannot speak, read or write. As a result, Mr Hood was charged with trafficking the oil and given a far harsher punishment than expected. But, earlier this week, his case was brought in front of an Abu Dhabi appeal court, which recognised that he had "unintentionally possessed" the drugs but had no intent to supply them. His term was subsequently reduced by 15 years. On Wednesday, his mother said the sentence reduction "is not really welcomed" because her son "has done nothing wrong". "We thought yesterday that we were going to find out that Billy was going to be able to come home," she told BBC Breakfast. "He has been told that the charges have been dropped against him and yet he is still there for another 10 years. It is heart-breaking, absolutely heart-breaking." Family of Londoner jailed in Dubai face six week wait for vape oil appeal Campaigners have welcomed the reduction but claim that it is still far too high, as they say there was no evidence of trafficking or selling. Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, a group which is lobbying for Mr Hood's release, said: "The UAE has just claimed they will eliminate prison sentences for foreigners found to be in possession of THC products, opting for deportation instead but this law does not come into effect until January 2022 and may not apply retroactively." In October, while speaking to ITV News, Mr Hood's mother, Breda Guckion, and uncle, David, received a call from him, as he described the poor conditions in his prison and said he still doesn’t have a mattress after a week inside. “The conditions here are shocking, I still haven’t got a mattress after seven days of being moved in... I’ve got literally 15 or 20 seconds, it’s going to cut out,” he said. “We all love you and we’re never giving up on you, never, ever,” Ms Guckion said to him. “We’re all being punished, every single day, we’re doing life with him. The only thing is he’s in hell and we’re not,” she added.
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org
Radha Stirling: http:///www.radhastirling.com
Due Process International http://www.dueprocess.international