Brit football coach jailed in Dubai faces 10 years in prison after sentence cut

A British football coach who was jailed for 25 years in Dubai for possessing CBD oil has had his sentenced cut to 10 years.

Billy Hood, 25, from London, was working as a football coach when police discovered four small bottles of CBD oil and a vape pen in his car in January.

He was arrested and convicted of drug trafficking with intent to supply, despite his claims that his confession was coerced after being refused a translator and told he would not leave his cell until he signed the document.

The latest news regarding Billy's sentence comes despite the UAE announcing it would bring in new laws meaning foreigners found to be in possession of products containing THC – the main intoxicating chemical in cannabis – can be deported rather than jailed if it’s their first offence, Sky News reports.

Billy also claims that the bottles and vape pen found in his car were left by a friend whom he had driven to the airport.

The campaign group Detained in Dubai said: "Abu Dhabi Courts accept Billy Hood did not traffic nor sell the CBD vape oil left in his car by a visiting friend.

"They accept that he 'unintentionally possessed' the CBD but have sentenced him to 10 years in prison, despite new legislation eliminating prison sentences for foreigners found in possession and allowing for deportation."

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: "They [police] turned what would have been a small possession case at worst into a federal case that has seen him locked up for almost a year and facing a life sentence in Abu Dhabi.

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"There was no evidence whatsoever of trafficking and none of selling. Dubai's overzealous prosecution has ruined this young man's life and put him and his family through hell.

"Billy was forced to confess to federal crimes with promises of his imminent release."

His mother, Breda Guckion told BBC Breakfast that she was feeling "broken" by the latest legal ruling.

She said: "It's very confusing. How can this have escalated as far as it has?

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"I tried not to get my hopes up for today as I knew something like this might happen, but I now have to face the possibility that I may not see my son before Christmas and I can't tell you how broken I am feeling."

"We pray every day for Billy's release," added Billy's brother, Alex.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE. We are in contact with his family in the UK."

Earlier this year, the UAE government said: "The General Directorate for Drug Control (GDDC) received a tip-off that Mr Billy Hood possessed quantities of synthetic cannabis oil with the intention of selling.

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"Consequently, Mr Hood was apprehended on 2 February 2021 and then charged with drug trafficking, following the search of the vehicle he was driving.

"Mr Hood was found to be in possession of quantities of synthetic cannabis oil, known scientifically as 'MDMB-4en-PINACA'.

"The police search of Mr Hood's vehicle found the cannabis oil, substantial amounts of cash, an electronic hookah, various storage bottles and boxes, and 570 individual cartridges to be used for substance vaping.

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"Mr Hood was convicted based on evidence including the items found in his possession, information on his phone, third party statement, and his own confession.

"Mr Hood had access to an English interpreter at all relevant stages, including his questioning, confession, and trial.

"He was represented in his trial by a defence lawyer whom he selected. The UAE provided full access to Mr Hood for UK diplomatic and consular representatives, who visited him in custody."

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