Dubai ordeal ‘robbed’ man of precious time with dying mother

Billy Barclay. Picture: Greg Macvean
Billy Barclay. Picture: Greg Macvean
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AN EDINBURGH man held in the United Arab Emirates over a fake £20 note said he was “robbed” of precious time with his mother after revealing she passed away just days after he returned to Scotland.

Plasterer Billy Barclay, 31, arrived home last Thursday after being locked up in a Dubai prison on counterfeit money charges – a year after currency officials in the Gulf state discovered he had a forged note, while in the holiday destination of Ras Al Khaimah.

But as Mr Barclay was in limbo 5,000 miles from home, mum Karen, 53, suffered a serious stroke, leaving him stranded without any knowledge of her condition.

Karen, who lived in Northfield, passed away on Sunday, just four days after he flew back into Edinburgh Airport and he has now spoken of the “horrendous” flight home as he rushed to his mother’s side.

Mr Barclay said: “I got off the plane and I should have been on a high – I’m home, I’m safe. But seven hours is a long time on a plane and I was just thinking about my mum. When I touched down, I was just straight to the hospital to see her and when I got there she kind of came to; it was like she was waiting on me.

“Prior to that she was conscious and I was still stranded over there so I never got to see that. She was obviously very concerned about how I was doing over there and I was equally worried about her, I was just desperate to get back.”

The father-of-two was arrested at Dubai Airport in front of wife Monique, 42, and children Billy, nine, and Madison, seven, and imprisoned for three days in the Gulf state after customs officials spotted a previous arrest on his immigration file.

It later emerged the allegation related to a single suspected fake note Mr Barclay had been found with as he tried to change money during a 2016 holiday to Ras Al Khaimah. He was interrogated by police for 12 hours before being released without charge and told he could return to the UAE.

After his release from prison on bail last month, Mr Barclay had to spend three weeks in a £120-per-night hotel in Dubai without his passport, which had been confiscated, before he could return home.

Monique flew home early and said the family were unsure whether to tell Billy how serious Karen’s condition was. She said: “Karen took a stroke on the Saturday and then on Tuesday morning, she took a turn for the worst and we were told she wasn’t going to survive it.

“We told Billy she took the stroke but not how bad it was until he stepped off the plane on the Thursday, that’s when we told him she wasn’t going to pull through.”