A British soccer coach was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis oil were found in his car.
Billy Hood of Notting Hill, West London, received the severe sentence despite being able to prove that the vape belonged to a visiting friend who had mistakenly left it in his car.
The 24-year-old fitness fanatic who is anti-drug and non-smoking was convicted by a court of drug trafficking for intent to deliver.
Dubai police reportedly picked Hood after monitoring WhatsApp messages and searching for drug-related keywords. A week before his arrest, the friend who owned the vape sent a message informing Hood that he had mistakenly left it in his car.
British football coach Billy Hood (24) from London (pictured) was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai after four small bottles of vape liquid with cannabis oil were found in his car
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed was revealed last week that he had hacked into the phone of his ex-wife and her lawyer Baroness Shackleton using spyware while a custody hearing was being held in the High Court.
The United Arab Emirates is known for using the Israel-made spyware Pegasus.
Hood, who played semi-professional football for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC, was stunned when police unexpectedly showed up at his apartment in January demanding that his house and company car be searched.
Four small vials of vape liquid containing cannabis oil (CBD) and a vape pen were later found in the passenger door.
After his arrest, Hood volunteered for 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 is perfectly legal, although it must contain less than 0.2% THC, which is the ingredient that causes users to get “high” .
Cannabis and cannabis oil are illegal in Dubai, where there is no tolerance to drugs.
Billy said, “I don’t smoke vape pens, cigarettes, or even shisha. I am very much against drugs and spend my days training in schools with children.
“I had just moved to a new home in Dubai and was about to get a phone charger out of my car when suddenly the police came up to me.
“They jumped out to arrest me and handcuffed me. An officer pointed a taser at me and threatened to use it if I didn’t cooperate.
Dubai police are believed to have singled out Billy (left, with his aunt) after monitoring WhatsApp messages a week before his arrest
“They asked me to show them where the drugs were. I was shocked and confused and told them I don’t own drugs. “
Hood said one of the arrest officers said he was interested in him through social media but did not take his phone or computer with him. He claims that the vape liquid was not mentioned on social media but in a WhatsApp message.
Police also found a few thousand pounds in cash in his apartment, but Hood’s employers told police they paid him the money while his bank account was being set up.
The family’s advocacy group arrested in Dubai believes the only explanation for the unannounced police appearance could be authorities monitoring WhatsApp and reading the message about the steam liquid.
Vape liquid containing CBD with less than 0.2% THC is legal in the UK but illegal in Dubai where there is no tolerance to drugs (stock image)
Hood was held for four days at a police station where he was told that if he did not sign a confession in Arabic, he would never be allowed to leave.
Family members said he was so scared and tired that he agreed without knowing that he had admitted such serious crimes.
When Hood appeared in court last week and was sentenced to the maximum sentence for drug smuggling, possession and delivery.
His concerned family are putting their hopes on an appeal next week in which lawyers will argue that he was bullied into signing the confession, proving that there is no evidence that the vape was from him.
His brother Alex told Mail Online: “It has been difficult to cope with Billy’s continued incarceration and the idea that he could be in jail until he was 50.
“You couldn’t meet anyone fitter than Billy. He has never used drugs and doesn’t even smoke. We never thought that moving to Dubai could be a one-way ticket. “
The family criticizes the British Embassy in Dubai, which they claim did not visit Billy in the nine months he was detained. ‘
Hood’s mother, Breda, 52, said, “I hid crying and crying thinking about what my son is going through.
“It is impossible for him to be involved in drugs and my son does not deserve it and I appeal to Sheikh Mohammed to intervene in this case. My son is innocent. ‘
Radha Sterling, Founder of Detained in Dubai, said: The transfer of drug cases by Dubai police has resulted in numerous unfair detentions of foreign nationals.
“We have seen people arrested and even convicted without evidence, often based on a forced confession in Arabic or by third parties.
“Drug convictions are prestigious to the police and lead to promotion, and the courts do not need solid evidence to convict them. Foreign nationals find it almost impossible to get a fair trial and false accusations are common. “