British veteran held in Abu Dhabi 'Dante's Inferno' prison cannot leave until he pays £170k in 'blood money'

13 August 2023, 10:25 | Updated: 14 August 2023, 10:36

James Hutchinson is being held in a notorious Abu Dhabi prison
James Hutchinson is being held in a notorious Abu Dhabi prison. Picture: Instagram

By Kit Heren

A British man being held in a notorious prison in Abu Dhabi cannot leave until he pays £170,000.

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Army veteran James Hutchinson, 52, is an inmate in Al Wathba jail - nicknamed Dante's Inferno - in the United Arab Emirates state, after being arrested in July 2023.

His prison time relates to a 2013 car accident in which he was driving and a Sudanese cyclist was killed.

Judges ruled that Hutchinson, who was living in the country at the time, was partly responsible for the crash, which took place on an unlit road in the city of Ras Al Khaimah.

But he left Abu Dhabi thinking the matter was over, after insurers paid out £15,000.

James, who was a sergeant in the Army Air Corps and has a wife and seven-year-old girl who are living in Russia, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. He was most recently a racing driving instructor in the UAE.

Read more: Love Island star Kaz Crossley tells of Dubai jail 'hell' after release from cell with 30 other women for 'drug offences'

Read more: British woman facing jail in Dubai for swearing at flatmate over text

Hutchinson is a racing driver instructor
Hutchinson is a racing driver instructor. Picture: Instagram

He got a job in 2021, meaning he had to apply for a work permit at a local police station.

Officers told him that the family of the man who had died in the crash had applied for more compensation in a civil case, which according to a fundraiser, took place without his knowledge.

Hutchinson was told he couldn't leave the country without paying £170,000 to the family - meaning he cannot see his wife and daughter.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson. Picture: GoFundMe

He was able to raise £52,000 through work - but a few months later he was told he was unable to keep working because his permit had been denied.

His mother Heather said the family was desperate, and launched the fundraiser to try to get him out.

She said: "To date, we have been in contact with the British Embassy in the UAE, Military Veteran Associations, and local MPs in the UK as well as trying further ways in the UAE system to get justice.

"We have yet to find anyone that will help him. I, his father, family and his wonderful friends are doing our best to financially support him, his wife and child and the legal costs incurred thus far.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson. Picture: Instagram

His father Malcolm, 74, an RAF veteran, said: "I’m begging the British Government to sort this out.

"The embassy over there doesn’t seem to be interested in his plight."

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: "Without urgent diplomatic intervention, James could spend years in prison. We’re reaching out to his MP and the Foreign Office.

"It’s disturbing the UK does not take care of its servicemen when they face wrong full detention in an allied nation."

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