PARENTS of the Brit footballer who is locked up in Dubai have pleaded for his release on his 25th birthday.
Outside Dubai’s biggest Luxury Property Show in London today, Billy Hood‘s heartbroken mum Breda and dad Alexander gathered with supporters who called for the 24-year-old’s freedom.
“It’s Billy’s birthday,” Breda told the crowd at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.
“He’s 25 and he’s stuck in a prison in Dubai for 25 years.
“We just want to wish him a happy birthday and there’s so much love for him and we’re always thinking of him.”
Billy’s dad Alexander told the crowd that the family wanted “justice for all these people who are incarcerated in this place that is supposed to be a dream.”
He continued: “Dubai, the dreams of what? The dreams of hell, the place is. Get them all home, please. Please get him home.”
Supporters then released balloons as they sang happy birthday and called for Billy’s release.
Last month Billy was sentenced to 25 years in prison after police found four tiny bottles of harmless CBD vape oil in his car.
The bottles were left by a pal who Billy had dropped off at the airport.
With that horrifying sentence, it means he will remain in Dubai’s most notorious prison until his 49th birthday.
On Thursday, Breda opened up to The Sun about her fears that she may never see her son again.
“It just feels unreal,” she said.
“There is no word in the dictionary to say how I felt [about the sentencing] or what I’m still feeling. It still sticks in my mind.
“He got 25 years? For what? You’ve taken away his life.”
Breda first heard about what happened to Billy at the beginning of February after his friends had reported the football coach missing.
A few days after making enquiries, Billy’s pals told his older brother Alex that he had been arrested.
“We sort of thought it wasn’t going to be a major thing,” Breda explained. “That’s why we didn’t go public with it for eight or nine months.
“Billy kept on saying ‘don’t worry about it, it’s gonna get sorted.’
“It was stupid. We sort of laughed it off. I know it sounds silly now but that’s what we did do. We just thought it was gonna get sorted and he’ll be home soon.”
The verdict for Billy’s appeal is due to be announced next Tuesday, however, Breda doesn’t have high hopes for what could happen.
“I’m not gonna get my hopes up,” she said.
“But I don’t know. That’s the scariest thing with them, is that I don’t know. They play so many mind games.”
‘THIS HAS TO STOP’
“If the FCDO fails to sufficiently warn citizens of the risks involved in travelling to or investing in Dubai, this message must be sent directly to potential future victims of the Gulf nation.
“The Dubai Luxury Property Show 2021 is marketing more than 10,000 properties and we know from experience that many of those investors will end up losing their life savings, their freedom and even their lives.
“The British government needs to encourage the UAE to modernise their justice system to reflect their skyline, rather than assisting them to cover up the abuses. This has to stop.”
The UAE public prosecutor’s office said: “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.
“Mr Hood has since appealed the initial ruling in accordance with UAE law and will receive a hearing at Abu Dhabi Court. At all times, Mr Hood has been treated in accordance with the UAE law and applicable international standards.”