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A Dubai-based youth soccer coach was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being caught with four small bottles of CBD vape oil, The Sun reports.
Billy Hood, 24, from London, was approached by the police when he was pulling something out of his car. Believing they had the wrong person, he took a negative drug test and gave them permission to search his car and home.
Hood told officials he was driving a friend from England who he said he left the oil in the door pocket of his car. The former semi-professional footballer who used to play for Kensington & Ealing Borough and now coaches youth football in Dubai insists he never touched drugs or even smoked a cigarette. Unfortunately, they didn’t believe him and he was taken to the Criminal Police Headquarters in Dubai.
Dubai police officers claim they responded to a tip-off by searching his car and apartment, but only found the oil and some cash that Hood said his employer gave him when setting up a bank account. CBD oil, usually used to treat anxiety and nausea, is legal in the UK, but because of the tiny traces of THC in the oil, it is enough to be convicted of possession in Dubai.
Activists said Billy was arrested on January 31 before he was pressured to sign a confession written in Arabic which it found included the more serious crimes of selling and trafficking oil.
Speaking to The Sun, Billy’s mother Brenda said, “I don’t think there’s a word in the dictionary that describes the pain I’m going through. I can’t talk about it without tears welling up in my eyes. It’s too hard to understand. Sometimes he tries to call. We love him so much. “
She added, “This is not our Billy; he’s 100 percent innocent. No help came from the embassy. We were in constant contact with them. I contacted her every day. The best I have heard from them is that he is fine. “
Hood’s family is currently supported by a charity that helps Westerners who have been sentenced to long prison terms in the United Arab Emirates.
Founder and CEO Radha Stirling stated, “He was arrested and charged with trading, selling and possessing CBD oil, which is illegal in the UAE. He had been in prison for four days and was forced and forced to sign a confession, which is common practice in Dubai. Being in possession of CBD oil would be a very, very short sentence, possibly a couple of years maximum, but since they added trading and sales to that it has become 25 years.
“The only evidence is the confession in Arabic, and he didn’t know what he was signing. Billy only had a very small amount of the CBD oil, but there are microscopic trace elements of the active ingredient THC in the oil and that’s enough for a conviction. It’s incredible to have an oil for 25 years that can’t even get you high, it’s extreme. “
Radha says an attorney for Hood will appeal and her organization plans to seek help from the UK government to get the sentence overturned.
Startled, Billy added in his testimony: “I don’t smoke vape pens, cigarettes or even shisha. It is very annoying that I am being accused of promoting and selling drugs in a country that shares the same beliefs and values as I do, as it affects my future. “
A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office commented: “We are providing consular support to a British man who is imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates.”
The United Arab Emirates are notorious for long sentences for drug offenses and drug trafficking can potentially be punishable by the death penalty. Even possession of traces of illegal drugs can result in a prison sentence of at least four years.
Billy Hood’s family have set up a GoFundMe page that has raised nearly £ 11,000 to date.