A British man spent three weeks in a Middle Eastern prison for sending an angry WhatsApp message to a car dealer who sold him a lemon, the Sun reported.
Killick was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with his wife Robyn, working as a real estate agent. The pair decided to buy a car from a local dealer, which set them back over $8,000—and then some.
The car allegedly broke down just hours after he drove it off the lot. It is reported that an investigation revealed the car had previously been written off in an accident and had been repaired cheaply.
Killick then wrote an angry WhatsApp message to the dealer.
“Not once did you mention the fact you bought the car as a write off from an insurance company. I also asked why it has only done 40,000 km and you said the previous owner was a woman who worked for an airline company so only drove it ever now and then,” Killick said in the message.
“All lies!!” he said, adding, “How do you sleep at night knowing you are ripping people off?”
However, Killick was not prepared for what followed. The recipient of the message complained to the police about being sent abusive messages, and Killick was arrested. He spent three weeks in jail.
“It was a nightmare. The prison conditions were horrific,” he said. “I was treated appallingly—all for sending a WhatsApp message.”
And then Killick was deported.
His wife, Robyn, who is a teacher, told reporters the experience has been traumatic.
“We have lost our home and our jobs and it’s been horrible all over this guy ripping us off and we are so badly out of pocket.
“We went there to try as a last adventure before coming back to England and getting married and starting a family but it’s left us really badly out of pocket.”
This follows a number of cases where Brits have been held in the UAE for questionable reasons.
According to a report by pressure group Detained in Dubai, 46-year-old businessman David Ballantine was detained in the UAE for 2 years over a less-than-$3 cab fare mixup.
Ballantine’s passport was allegedly confiscated and he was forced to stay in Dubai for 2 years until his trial.
“I couldn’t work legally, so I worked ‘off the books’ for the first year, until eventually needing to rely on handouts from friends and family over the course of the following year,” Ballantine said.
“I was forced to sleep in hotel toilets. I took beatings from hotel security staff; and was even thrown down flights of stairs and assaulted in public restrooms by hotel security.”
“After the two years in limbo,” David continues, “I was sentenced to 69 days in jail. Ironically, one of the charges was ‘outstaying my visa,’ a charge I could hardly have avoided as the police had confiscated my passport. Once those final 69 days were over, I was deported back to Scotland.”
Both Ballantine and Killick complain of inadequate assistance from the British embassy, with Killick slamming it as “useless.”
Detained in Dubai blames “endemic problems with the UAE legal system,” saying, “frivolous cases that often have devastating consequences” are on the rise.