A football coach from Kensington has been jailed for 25 years for cannabis possession in Dubai.
Billy Hood, 24, was handed the sentence after four small bottles of cannabis oil (CBD) were discovered in his car by Dubai police in January.
Hood, who has also played football semi-professionally, has denied the CBD belonged to him and accused the police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of coercing him into his confession.
He believed the substance had been left by a friend who had visited from England two weeks previously, as he defended himself on the day officers raided his home in Dubai that he had recently moved into.
After being given a document to sign in Arabic, Hood asked for an English translation before his request was refused and claims he was told: “If you do not sign, you will never leave CID.”
In a statement to lawyers, Hood described the conditions he had to endure.
He said: “I was taken to an isolation cell for 14 days without any hygiene products. I had no contact with the outside world.”
Though the product is legal in the UK, purchasable in health food shops and provides no ‘high’ of any description, Hood was adamant he would not have committed such an offence given his sporting and fitness background.
This claim was supported by his worried mother Breda, 52, a teaching assistant.
She added: “He’s always been such a good boy and has never been troublesome. He helps out children, coaches and volunteers. He’s never been into drugs, ever.
“It is impossible that he is guilty of the allegations against him.
“I have hidden myself away, crying and crying when I imagine what our sweet boy is going through. It is the worst stress I’ve ever been through and I feel helpless.”
Detained in Dubai‘s CEO Radha Stirling urged UAE authorities to reconsider their decision.
She said: “Billy Hood does not deserve to spend 25 years in a desert prison because his friend left some CBD oil in his company car. He has already spent a horrendous nine months in detention, an utterly frightening and stressful experience for him and his whole family.
“We appeal to Sheikh Mohammed and the government of Dubai to let Billy come home.”
Featured Image credit: Detained in Dubai