The wife of a Scottish grandad facing jail time in Dubai says she doesn’t know how she’ll cope if her husband isn’t allowed to return home.
Carol Mackellar is back in Newtonhill, near Stonehaven, but her husband Ian remains in the United Arab Emirates following an altercation on New Year’s Eve.
Mr Mackellar, 75, has been accused of trespass after complaining about a noisy neighbour while looking after his infant grandchild.
A complaint was made against him and he is waiting to find out what action will be taken by police in the Gulf state.
But Ms Mackellar says her husband wouldn’t survive prison.
“He is on statins, he has a stent, he suffers from sciatica as well – I believe it’s all kind of linked – there’s one or two medications that he struggles to get over there,” she told STV News.
“He’s on his own, he’s really on his own.
“I was in tears, I really didn’t want to leave them but I knew I had no alternative, I knew I had to get home. I have an actual hospital appointment, which I must attend.
“I was really distressed, finding it hard to manoeuvre my way around Dubai Airport and even coming off the plane on your own, it’s just not something I’m used to at all.
“He’s finding it very hard, he’s been quite emotional… He broke down, he was in tears and of course there’s nothing I can do to help apart from talk.
“He’s really quite distraught and he worries about me as well. We do not know what will happen next. All we know is that he is being asked to attend the police station tomorrow (Thursday).”
Ms Mackellar and her daughter approached the advocacy group Detained in Dubai for assistance after the complaint was made.
But Ms Mackellar had to leave her husband of 49 years behind and return to Scotland as she requires medication for heart that is not available in the UAE, and she would also have faced fines for outstaying her visa.
“I was absolutely devastated that I had to leave the family out there on their own having to face this,” she said.
“I’m just so utterly shocked because I know that the age he is – you’re talking years in prison – that man that is my husband. He won’t be back as my husband, if he’s even back at all.”
It is said that Mr Mackellar had messaged his daughter’s neighbours to keep the noise down and be mindful of the fact there was an 18-month-old child next door. His daughter also needed to be up early to start work at 5am on New Year’s Day.
When the music was played louder, Mr Mackellar visited the neighbours while carrying his granddaughter to ask again to keep the noise down, Detained in Dubai claimed.
When nobody responded at the door, Mr Mackellar headed down an open side path to the garden. He could see guests in attendance, so asked them if they could move the party indoors.
But it is alleged that multiple guests started pushing him backwards, causing him to stumble. He claims that drinks were thrown over him and his granddaughter while attempting to leave.
Mr Mackellar intended to file a police report regarding what had happened that night, but a complaint was launched against him for trespassing before he could.
“My daughter was also very upset that her child had been assaulted”, said Ms Mackellar.
“She was at that point thinking of going to the police but we all discussed and thought, ‘it’s a party, Hogmanay, these things happen, let’s just forget it’, because you’ve just moved here and have no idea of the reaction or what could happen.
“That was the decision that was made. My daughter went off to work and we were looking after the baby ourselves.
“It was on January 2 – my daughter was in bed and the doorbell rang. My husband answered and it was the police and they asked him to accompany them to the police station.”
Ms Mackellar informed her daughter about what had happened and she quickly got dressed and made her way to the station, where she was informed her dad was being charged over the New Year’s incident.
“We heard nothing for quite a while but we knew that I could go home (to Scotland) but he couldn’t and we were getting really, really worried about his medication and his heart,” Ms Mackellar told STV News.
“He also looks after his brother, who is ill, he has to look after his day-to-day affairs. All of that is a real worry, so we thought we need some help somewhere.”
Mr Mackellar was scheduled to return to Scotland on January 10 but now remains in the UAE indefinitely where he has no access to medical care and where he will be separated from his wife.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: “It is standard practice in Dubai to pre-emptively file a police report when at risk of being reported.
“This is a very sad situation. Nobody would ever imagine that a polite request to turn the music down would result in a travel ban and criminal prosecution”, said Ms Stirling.
“Again and again, we are reminded that a simple trip to Dubai can indeed be a one way ticket. If the case isn’t dropped, Ian will likely end up in prisons notorious for human rights violations, and he simply doesn’t deserve it.”
Ms Mackellar said she would be “absolutely devastated” if her husband receives a jail sentence in the UAE.
“He’s not a man who deserves that, he’s never done anything in his life that would warrant that,” she said.
“It will be very, very hard living on my own. I dread to think how I will be, I really do.”
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