A British soccer coach was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai after police discovered four bottles of vaporized liquid containing CBD in the trunk of his car.
Billy Hood, 24, of Kensington, was convicted of drug trafficking, selling and possession after alleging he was forced by police to confess in Arabic, a language he does not speak.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it “provides consular assistance to a British detained in the United Arab Emirates.”
The steam oils found in Hood’s car on January 31st contained CBD, which is legal in the UK and many other countries, but illegal in the UAE because it contains trace elements of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. The oils had been bought in the UK, which resulted in a trading fee.
In a statement to the Detained campaign group in Dubai, Hood said he knew nothing about the oils in the trunk but thought they were left behind by a friend from England who had visited him a few weeks earlier.
Hood said he was approached by police outside his home to search his home and car for drugs. “I was shocked, scared and confused. I told them I didn’t know or have any drugs or substances, ”he said.
After discovering the CBD oil, Hood said he was held in an isolation cell for 14 days with no hygiene products. After a week, he was told that he was facing a second charge.
Hood, who played semi-professional football for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC, said he had a “zero tolerance” attitude towards drugs and illegal substances.
Hood’s family is working with Dubai detainees and local lawyers to appeal his convictions, which they fund through a GoFundMe page that has raised over £ 11,000 to date.
His mother Breda, a 55-year-old teaching assistant, said she had experienced “the worst stress I have ever experienced” in the past nine months.
She said, “He’s always been such a good boy and has never caused any problems. He helps children, coaches and volunteers. He’s never done drugs, never … My son doesn’t deserve to lose his whole life because of CBD oil that wasn’t even his. “
She said she was “disappointed” with the lack of support from the FCO and urged the government department to include more information about the criminal justice system in Dubai in their travel advisories. She also called on the UAE government to intervene in the case.
Radha Stirling, the executive director of Detained in Dubai, said visitors to the country need to be extra careful not to violate its zero tolerance drugs policy. Recent convictions include possession of poppy seeds containing opium alkaloids; medical prescriptions; and traces of drugs used months prior to arrival in the country that show up in urine tests.
“You can protect yourself by being very careful about what you take with you, but only to a certain extent because there are still illegal arrests and the desire of the police to obtain a conviction, even if it is illegal,” said Stirling, adding that “coerced and coerced” confessions are commonplace “.
The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates has been asked to comment.