Billy Hood Birthday Balloons set for Dubai’s Luxury Property Show in London
Tomorrow, Billy Hood will turn 25 years old, the same number of years as the sentence he has been handed by UAE courts after being forced to confess to trafficking, selling and possessing CBD oil left in his car by a visiting friend.
Billy’s family will appear at Dubai’s largest luxury property show tomorrow in London to set off #FreeBilly birthday balloons. “Billy’s mother Breda is frightened to get her hopes up for next week’s appeal results”, says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “It has been a most distressing time since Billy was moved to Abu Dhabi and put in isolation. The past year has been an absolute nightmare for the family and they are stressed out of their minds”, added Stirling.
“Andy Neal went through the same thing. He was detained for a whole year before finally being exonerated. I don’t think anyone can imagine what that does to a person. The impact and trauma are ongoing and lead to broken families and damaged victims. The human toll of failing and corrupt police practices is extreme and a serious human rights issue.
“When UAE enterprise then comes to London to put on property shows and the like, offering free residency visas and 50% mortgages, we have to understand that people will be lured into these offerings and are at risk of losing their investments as they have done systematically for over a decade, their freedom or like Lee Bradley Brown, their lives. There are thousands of foreigners who have been deceived by property developers often owned by the government and this deceit has resulted in their loss of funds and freedom as banks have jailed them for debt. Numerous British nationals are in Dubai right now, prisoners in the capital of fraud and money laundering. After being robbed by companies with deceptive trade practices and zero accountability, they are then held in the country until they can repay mortgages for homes that were never even finished. The catch is, their passports will be confiscated and their working permits cancelled at the same time. Foreigners have faced homelessness and become suicidal over this egregious situation.
“The FCDO has been criticised for its lack of sufficient travel warnings to the UAE and in fact, this very issue will be debated in Parliament shortly. For the time being, it’s important that those being lured into mortgages, debt and unfinished property developments are warned by rights groups of the risks they face in the Gulf. The best way to do that is to attend Dubai’s marketing events to warn citizens directly”.
Billy Hood is suffering horrendous conditions, but he is not the first one to be unfairly detained for drugs related charges and until police enforcement procedures are reformed, he won’t be the last.
Dubai’s arbitrary arrests, forced confessions and substandard legal procedures have resulted in hundreds of wrongful arrests. See some of the most prominent cases below:
Stirling’s first case involving her friend, Cat Le-Huy, was pulled aside on arrival in Dubai for a random search that revealed he was carrying a legal health supplement known as “melatonin”. Melatonin is a supplement that assists with jet lag symptoms & is available legally over the counter in the United Arab Emirates. Regardless, Mr Le-Huy was subjected to a full strip search, urine tests & was, under duress, forced to sign a confession in Arabic, a language he does not understand. the Dubai authorities not to obtain legal representation. Le-Huy was held for seven weeks before legal and lobbying intervention expedited his release.
Family man and veteran Andy Neal was rounded up by police because he was in someone’s phone contact list in their phone, a neighbour he barely knew. British veteran Andrew Neal has been acquitted by an Abu Dhabi court of baseless drug charges after over a year in prison. Neal was arrested in October last year as part of a large-scale police operation against a suspected drug syndicate, despite there being no evidence to substantiate his involvement. Police searched Neal, his car, and his apartment and found no trace of drugs, neither in his possession nor in his bloodstream. He was eventually exonerated after a year in Abu Dhabi’s notorious prison.
Derrin Crawford, British air hostess, 23, was arrested in Dubai and held in notorious jail after police raid apartment of 'British' man she had just gone on first date with and find two cannabis joints. After public outrage, Derrin was released.
Veteran Perry Coppins was held in the same prison as Billy Hood after he was found with prescription medication for his PTSD. Coppins was held in jail for five weeks, released after Detained in Dubai’s intervention.
Keith Brown was sentenced to four years in jail after Dubai customs officers found a tiny speck of cannabis, weighing just 0.003g, stuck to his shoe. He was reportedly freed a few weeks later.
Peter Clark was arrested after a blood test revealed trace elements of hashish in his system, but it was smoked outside of the UAE in Las Vegas, where the substance is legal. After Detained in Dubai lobbied the US to intervene, he was released.
Conor Clements a young British man was arrested in the UAE for traces of medical marijuana that were left in his system after legally taking it in the UK