An appeal has reduced the sentence of a British football coach, who was held in Dubai prison for over 25 years for possession CBD vape oils.
This comes just days after the UAE announced new laws that foreigners who are found with drugs may be sent home rather than being jailed, provided this is not their first offense.
Billy Hood (25 years old) was taken into custody in January. He was convicted in October of drug trafficking and intent to supply following the discovery of vape oil in his vehicle’s boot.
A Abu Dhabi appeal court heard Hood’s case today. It recognized that Hood “unintentionally” had the drugs but didn’t intend to supply them and reduced his term by 15 years.
Although there were high hopes that the legislation would allow Mr Hood to be deported rather than sent back to prison today, the law will not take effect until January 2022. It may also not apply retroactively.
Radha Stirling (CEO of Pressure Group Detained in Dubai), an organization that assists foreign nationals in Emirate arrests, today called police “extremely negligent” over Mr Hood’s arrest.
‘There was no evidence at all of trafficking, nor of selling. Dubai’s unrelenting prosecution has destroyed the young man’s life, and put his family through hell’ she stated.
Billy Hood (pictured), a British football coach, was sentenced to 10 years for possession of CBD vape oils in Dubai.
Pictured with his grandmother, 24-year-old Mr Hood was captured being arrested and later convicted in Emirati Court of Drug Trafficking With Intent to Supply
After today’s appeals decision, Ms Stirling attacked Dubai police for forcing her. [Mr Hood]to make confessions and promise his release.
She said that they transformed what could have been considered a minor possession case into a federal case, which has led to him being locked up almost one year and now facing a lifetime sentence in Abu Dhabi.
He was offered both a carrot, and a string to ensure that a prosecutor would get what he deserved. This is a familiar story.
Following the judgement, Mr Hood’s mother, Breda Guckion, 55, said: ‘It’s very confusing… How can this have escalated as far as it has?
“I didn’t want to let my expectations get too high for today, as I was aware that something similar might occur. But I have now to confront the fact that my son may not be here before Christmas. Words cannot describe how I feel.”
The British Foreign Office has submitted a clemency request to the UAE government. However, Mr Hood’s father Alex stated that his son’s case should be ‘top of list.
“The Brits have strong ties to the UAE, so why don’t they use their relationships to help people such as Billy?” This should be on their top list’, he stated.
“Our son doesn’t care about drugs, not in any way, whether he is selling, consuming or trafficking them.” His friend didn’t leave the vape bottles in his vehicle. Is it fair to punish someone for their actions?
His tests all came back negative. There is no evidence of trafficking or selling. This is like a scene from a film. I cannot imagine how frustrated he must feel at not being able help. Although we’re campaigning here, he is there alone.
Alfie Cain, Mr Hood’s closest friend and best friend previously stated that he had told him to 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.
He said to Mr Cain that he had only confessed to the drug charges. The Arabic confession was necessary because the officers stated that if he didn’t, the abuse would cease.
Ms. Guckion 55 claimed that officers had previously laughed at her son as he was being held in prison cells with thirty others. She told him that if the confession wasn’t signed, then he wouldn’t get out.
His family members claim he was tired and scared when he signed the confession, not realizing he had confessed to serious crimes.
M. Cain spoke out about the confession of Mr Hood. He said that Billy said that they had told him that he could return home if he signed the document. That’s why he agreed to sign that Arabic piece. Although he didn’t know what he was signing, he wanted it to stop.
Alfie Cain (pictured on Good Morning Britain), Billy Hood’s friend and best friend, claims Hood said that he was beat, slapped and given only small amounts of water and bread while in Al-Barsha prison by officers
In early November, Mr Hood’s family said they had He has had no contact since the transfer.
Breda Hood, his mother told Ms Stirling that her son was going through a lot right now. After being moved from one pillar to the next, he was finally relieved that he could be there with British citizens when they moved him to Abu Dhabi.
“He is going through the worst time of his life. He can’t communicate with his family or his lawyer.
Ms Stirling has previously accused the UAE that it fabricated a case against Mr Hood. However, the Emirate denies this accusation, and says that Hood was indicted based upon a variety of items found inside his vehicle.
The UAE Public Prosecution stated that Hood was in possession of synthetic cannabis oil. Hood was found with large quantities of synthetic marijuana oil.
The Police searched the vehicle of Mr. Hood and discovered cannabis oil and substantial cash. There were also various boxes and storage containers and cartridges for use in substance vaping.
‘Mr. Hood was found guilty based upon evidence that included his items, phone information, third-party statements, and Hood’s own confession.
Dubai Police are said to have found Mr Hood in WhatsApp messages. They searched for keywords related to drug use and identified him.
The vape liquid’s owner sent Hood a message a week before his arrest to inform him that it had been left behind.
Hood was a semi-professional player for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC. He was shocked when officers unexpectedly showed up at Hood’s flat and asked to inspect his house and his company car.
Later, four small vials with vape liquid (CBD) were found inside the compartment.
Vape liquids containing CBD with less that 0.2% THC are legal in the UK, but they will not be allowed in the UAE (stock) until January 2022.
Hood was arrested and offered to submit to a drug test, which was negative.
High street shops in the UK sell vape liquids containing CBD oil (cannabis oils). They are perfectly legal, but they must not contain more than 0.2% THC. This is what causes users to get ‘high’.
Also, police found some thousand pounds of cash in Hood’s flat. But Mr Hood told police that his employers had given him the money as he was setting up his bank account.
According to him, one of the officers who arrested him said that they had an interest in him via social media. However, they did not confiscate his computer or phone. He claims that the only mention of vape liquid was in a WhatsApp message.
According to the Dubai pressure group, the police are expected to show up at the home of the relatives.
Following his October sentence of 25 years, Hood stated in an interview with his lawyer that he does not use vapes, smoke, or use cigarettes. Hood is very anti-drugs. I spend most of my time coaching children in schools.
“I just moved into a new house in Dubai, and I went to buy a charger for my phone from my car. But then I was approached by the police.
They jumped on me to take me into custody and placed me in handcuffs. One officer pointed the taser towards me and threatened to use force if it wasn’t cooperating.
They demanded that I showed them where the drugs were. “I was stunned and confused, and I told them that I didn’t have any drugs.”
Alfie Cain, Mr Hood’s friend, claimed that he had told him that he had been slapped and tasered for five days in order to get him to sign a confession. He was also given small amounts of bread and water at Al-Barsha prison.
UAE said that they will relax its drug laws. They are easing penalties for travellers who travel to UAE with cannabis products.
This new law was published in UAE’s official gazette. It states that people who are caught transporting food, drinks, and other marijuana-containing items into the UAE won’t be sentenced if they do it for the first.
Instead of confiscating and destroying the goods, authorities will do so.
This law represents a significant change in one of the most restrictive countries on the planet when it comes to imports common drugs, including cannabis and over-the-counter medicines like sedatives or amphetamines.
Drug trafficking and sale are strictly prohibited in the country.
The minimum sentence for drug offenders is reduced from 2 years to 3 months and convicts are offered rehabilitation at an independent detention center.
Foreign drug dealers who are captured are often deported to home countries following their imprisonment. But, under the new law that leaves it up to the judge.
The nation’s penal code is based on Islamic law or Shariah and has regularly sent tourists and expats to jail for crimes that very few Westerners might consider.
As the UAE marks half-century of its founding, these reforms form part of a larger legal overhaul. It seeks to increase its appeal as a vibrant hub for tourists and investors.