ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner was at home with Billy Hood's mum when her son rang home from Dubai
A British football coach handed a 25-year sentence in a Dubai prison after being found with four bottles of CBD vape oil, has spoken of the “shocking conditions” he is experiencing in a call to his mum filmed by ITV News.
Billy Hood, 24, was arrested shortly after moving to the country in January this year, after four bottles of vape liquid containing CBD oil – legal in the UK and many other countries but illegal in the UAE as it contains trace elements of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis – were found in his car.
While speaking to ITV News, Mr Hood's mother, Breda Guckion, and uncle, David, received a call from Mr Hood, who described the poor conditions in his prison and said he still doesn’t have a mattress after a week inside.
"The conditions here are shocking... I still don't have a mattress," Billy Hood tells his mother and uncle in a phone call filmed by ITV News.
He said he only had “15 to 20 seconds left” to make his call but that he would try to get back in touch next week.
“The conditions here are shocking, I still haven’t got a mattress after seven days of being moved in... I’ve got literally 15 or 20 seconds, it’s going to cut out,” he said.
“But I’ll try to give you a call next week, if possible.”
The call then disconnected.
“We all love you and we’re never giving up on you, never, ever,” Ms Guckion said to him. “Stay strong, Billy,” added his uncle.
Mr Hood has always maintained the bottles belonged to a friend who had accidentally left them in his car.
Dubai authorities took a signed confession from the football coach, but Mr Hood said he was coerced into agreeing to the document which was also written in Arabic.
As a result, Mr Hood was charged with trafficking the oil and given a far harsher punishment that expected.
Ms Guckion said she fears she will never see her son again.
"We’re all being punished, every single day," Bill Hood's mother says.
“Will I still be alive? I’m 55, so if he comes out I’ll be 80, will I still be around to see him? It’s hard to take in,” Ms Guckion told ITV News.
“I’m hoping beyond hope just as a mum... they’re [the bottles] not his, he’s told them that. He’s done nine months for nothing, just let him come home now.”
She added: “We’re all being punished, every single day, we’re doing life with him. The only thing is he’s in hell and we’re not.”
Mr Hood's friend, Alfie, said the 24-year-old is a “positive person” but that you can never be sure how someone really feels while in prison on the other side of the world.
Alfie describes his concern for 'positive person' Billy Hood
Alex, Mr Hood's brother, said it was a “genuine mistake” that led to the football coach's friend leaving the bottles in his car.
“Nobody thought anything of it,” he said.
Radha Stirling, from the Detained in Dubai campaign group, called on the government to intervene directly in the case.
“Our gov should, as other foreign governments do for their citizens, be engaging with their diplomatic counterpart in the UAE to raise this case with the authorities, who would hopefully review court documents and exonerate him, ultimately.
“He wasn’t trafficking, he wasn’t selling, there’s no evidence of that, and he’s suffered coercion and pressure that’s made him sign a confession in Arabic.”