Mother of British man jailed for 25 YEARS in Dubai over friend’s vape bottle containing cannabis oil says she ‘still had hope after his arrest…now I’m completely broken’
- Footballer Billy Hood, 24, from London, sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai
- His mother Breda said the sentencing ‘breaks me every day just thinking about it’
- Police found vape liquid containing CBD oil after searching his car in January
- Billy is anti-drugs and doesn’t smoke, and the vape belonged to a visiting friend
- Cannabis and cannabis oil is illegal in Dubai and there is zero tolerance to drugs
The mother of a British football coach who has been jailed for 25 years in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car has revealed the sentencing ‘breaks me every day’.
Breda Guckion, 52, said she ‘still had hope’ that Billy Hood would be released from prison, but upon hearing her son would spend a quarter of a century behind bars she said ‘it completely broke me’.
Hood, 24, from Notting Hill, West London, was given the harsh sentence despite being able to prove the vape liquid belonged to a visiting friend who had mistakenly left them in his car.
The fitness fanatic, who is anti-drugs and doesn’t smoke, was arrested nine months ago in January and convicted by a court of drug trafficking with intent to supply on Wednesday.
His heartbroken mother Breda told Good Morning Britain on Thursday: ‘I think that for the first nine months, even though we knew he had done nothing wrong, we still had that hope.
‘But hearing that it was 25 years, it broke us, it completely broke us.’
Breda, fighting back tears, added: ‘It still breaks me every day just thinking about it. Just seeing his photo breaks me now.’
Speaking about why the vape liquid was found in his car, she explained: ‘He had dropped off one of his friends at the airport and they had left it in the car. And that’s why it was there.’
Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Hood after monitoring WhatsApp messages and looking for key words related to drugs. A week before his arrest the friend who owned the vape liquid sent a message telling Hood he had mistakenly left it behind in his car.
British football coach Billy Hood, 24, from London, (pictured) has been jailed for 25 years in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car
Breda Guckion, 52, said the family had ‘hope’ that Billy Hood would be released from prison, but upon hearing her son would spend a quarter of a century behind bars she said ‘it completely broke them’
The ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed was last week revealed to have used spyware to hack into the phone of his ex-wife and her lawyer Baroness Shackleton while a custody hearing was taking place at the High Court.
The United Arab Emirates are known to be users of the Israeli made spyware known as Pegasus.
Hood, who played semi-professional football for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC, was stunned when police unexpectedly turned up at his flat in January and demanded to search his home and company car.
Four small vials of vape liquid containing cannabis oil (CBD) and a vape pen were later found in the passenger door compartment.
After his arrest Hood volunteered to take a urine test for drugs which came back negative.
Vape liquid containing CBD ( cannabis oil) is sold by high street stores in the UK and perfectly legal although they must contain less than 0.2% of THC which is the ingredient that leads to users getting ‘high’.
Cannabis and cannabis oil is illegal in Dubai where there is a zero tolerance to drugs.
Billy said: ‘I do not smoke vape pens, cigarettes or even sheesha. I am very anti-drugs and spend my days coaching in schools with children.
‘I had just moved to a new home in Dubai and went to get a phone charger from my car when I was suddenly approached by police.
‘They jumped out to arrest me, handcuffed me. One officers pointed a taser at me, threatening to use it if I did not cooperate.
Police in Dubai are thought to have singled out Billy (left, with his aunt) after monitoring WhatsApp messages as a week before his arrest the friend, who owned the vape liquid, sent a message telling him he had mistakenly left it behind in his car
‘They demanded I show them where the drugs were. I was shocked and confused and told them I wasn’t in possession of any drugs.’
Hood said one of the arresting officers said they were interested in him from social media but did not take his phone or computer. He maintains there was no mention of the vape liquid on social media but in one WhatsApp message.
Police also found a few thousand pounds in cash in his flat but Hood’s employers told police they had paid him they money while his bank account was being set up.
The pressure group Detained in Dubai, who are representing the family, believe the only explanation for police turning up unannounced could be authorities monitoring WhatsApp and reading the message about the vape liquid.
Vape liquid containing CBD with less than 0.2% of THC is legal in the UK, but is illegal in Dubai where there is a zero tolerance to drugs (stock image)
Hood was held at a police station for four days where he was told if he did not sign a confession written in Arabic he would never be allowed to leave.
Family members said he was so frightened and tired that he agreed not knowing he had admitted such serious crimes.
When Hood appeared before a court last week and was convicted of drug smuggling, possession and supply and given the maximum sentence.
His worried family are pinning their hopes on an appeal next week where lawyers will argue he was bullied into signing the confession and prove there is no evidence that the vape liquid was his.
His brother Alex told Mail Online: ‘It has been difficult to cope with Billy’s ongoing detention and the idea that he could be in prison until he is 50.
‘You could not meet anyone more fitness focused that Billy. He has never been into drugs and does not even smoke. We never thought moving to Dubai could be a one-way ticket.’
The family are critical of the British Embassy in Dubai who they claim have not visited Billy during the nine months he has been held in jail.’
Hood’s mum Breda, 52, said:’ I have hidden myself away crying and crying when I think of what my son is going through.
‘It is impossible that he is involved in drugs and my son does not deserve this and I appeal to Sheikh Mohammed to intervene in this case. My son is innocent.’
Radha Sterling, founder of Detained in Dubai, said: Dubai police’s handing of drugs cases has resulted in numerous unfair detentions of foreign nationals.
‘We have seen people arrested and even convicted without evidence, often on the basis of a forced confession in Arabic or from some third party.
‘Drug convictions are prestigious for police leading to promotions and the courts do not need substantial evidence to secure a conviction. Foreign nationals find it almost impossible to achieve a fair hearing and false allegations are common place.’
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