Man tells of Middle East prison ordeal
ON OCTOBER 22 last year Peter Hutchinson did not know if he would live to see another day.
Snatched from a Middle Eastern street and bundled into the back of a car by two men dressed in Arab-style clothing, he believed he was to be executed.
Peter, 52, a father of three from Newquay, was helpless as he fought to escape, begging his kidnappers to identify themselves.
"I thought I was a goner," he said.
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"You hear of people getting abducted in the Middle East, so I thought that's what had happened to me. I thought, 'that's it, I'm going to die'."
But this was only the beginning of the "harrowing" nightmare that followed.
Unbeknown to Peter, he had been snatched by two plain-clothed detectives while staying in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Arrested for allegedly damaging a vehicle and drinking without a licence, he was thrown into Fujairah Correctional Institution for more than 50 days.
Peter said he was forced to eat his food off the floor and sleep on a concrete block in a cell he shared with 150 other inmates.
A month since his release, Peter, whose wife Irene runs the Narrowcliff Hotel, has spoken for the first time of his ordeal, which he claims was a "money-making scam".
The former Royal Marine Commando of ten years, who served in the Falklands conflict and completed three tours of duty in Northern Ireland, said he is trying to piece his life back together but faces a legal bill of £25,000, has lost his job and is left with "frightening" memories.
Peter was working as a maritime security contractor in the coastal region of Fujairah when he and two colleagues went for a beer at the nearby Hilton Hotel.
In the taxi on the journey back, they noticed another car travelling behind them, flashing its lights and beeping its horn and the driver was making gestures.
Moments later, Peter was standing outside his hotel alone having a quick "smoke", when he was "shoved" into the back of a car and driven away.
He was taken to a nearby police station where he was arrested for drinking without a licence and damaging a car. He was later charged with the offence and thrown into prison.
"As far as I was concerned, I had done nothing wrong. I was innocent," he said. "I was guilty of drinking and trying to get out of the police car and for that I spent 57 days in jail."
A charge of assaulting a police officer was later added to the charge sheet, but Peter said there was no evidence to back it up.
At the first of several court appearances Peter said the judge took just 45 seconds to extend his prison spell by three weeks.
At his final court appearance on December 16, he was fined 5,500 Emirati dirhams – about £950 – and later released from jail.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was aware of the detention of a British national in Fujairah in October and provided consular assistance.