Edinburgh dad faces Dubai jail over fake £20 note

Billy Barclay and family on last year's trip to UAE
Billy Barclay and family on last year's trip to UAE

A STRANDED father-of-two faces a year in jail on counterfeit money charges in the United Arab Emirates - over a single £20 note.

Plasterer Billy Barclay, 31, from Fernieside, was handcuffed and arrested in front of his horrified family at Dubai International Airport as they went through immigration.

He was shackled and caged for three days away from his family before being released on bail and his passport confiscated.

It later emerged the allegation relates to a single suspected fake note Billy had on him during last year’s holiday to nearby Ras Al Khaimah.

Forced to fly home without her husband, wife Monique is a “nervous wreck” while children Billy, nine, and seven-year-old Madison are having sleepless nights.

“We just need him home,” said Monique, 42. “The kids cry every day. They can’t even speak with him on the phone because they get so upset.”

Billy was originally arrested on last year’s dream family holiday while trying to change £140 shopping money at a mall.

One of the notes set off the money detector and the police called. Billy was interrogated for 12 hours while the couple’s hotel room searched.

But after no more phony cash was found, Billy was released without charge and assured he could return to UAE whenever he liked.

“It was distressing for the kids, to see their dad arrested,” said Billy from UAE this week.

“They have never been in a police car or police station. Myself and Monique reassured them, we knew that the police would investigate and see that it was an honest mistake.”

“The relief was huge,” added Monique. “I mean, we knew it was a mix up.

“Either someone had given the note to Billy as change, or maybe the detector machine was faulty.

“There was certainly no intent from us to steal twenty pounds, but until you’re released, you can’t help but be frightened.”

But after returning last month, Billy, who has never been in trouble with the law before, has been told he must stay until his case is dealt with.

“We tried telling them about the mix up last year,” explained Billy. “But for some reason I was in the computer as wanted for passing fake money still.”

The holiday ruined, Billy faces prison time and £1,000 fine for what he blames on a bureaucratic error.

Meanwhile, the devoted dad is missing his kids and coaching the Castlevale Football Club Youth Development team his son plays for.

“We are always going to the cinema and arcades together and walking our dog, Alfie,” said Billy. “I just pray our family can be back together again soon.”

Billy has already forked out more than £2,200 on nearly three weeks of hotel bills alone as he waits word from the authorities, with no end in sight.

“We can’t afford for me to be staying in hotels like this, not working,” he said. “If I were to be handed a prison sentence, it would cripple us financially.”

The family have now turned to London-based UAE criminal justice specialists Detained in Dubai for help.

“We hope that the charges will ultimately be dropped,” said Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling.

“We are continuing to support him throughout the judicial process and hope for his speedy release.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are providing assistance to the family of a British man who was arrested in UAE in September.”