A BRITISH mum-of-three has been locked up in Dubai with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a single glass of wine on an Emirates flight from Gatwick.
Ellie Holman, 44, from Sevenoaks, Kent, was arrested by immigration officials after her eight hour flight touched down at Dubai International Airport.
The dentist claims she was thrown in a “baking hot and foul smelling” airport detention centre and her little girl Bibi was forced to go to the toilet on the cell floor.
She now faces spending up to a year in the strict Arab state while she waits for her case to be settled.
Dr Holman’s nightmare began on July 13 when an official informed her that her visa had expired and she’d have to return to London immediately.
But the thought of getting back on the long-haul flight with her young daughter was “unthinkable” and she got in a tense standoff with the officer.
She said he then began to quiz her over whether she had been drinking.
Dr Holman said: “Yes, I had a glass of wine on the flight. Given to me free by Emirates Airline staff.”
The official informed Dr Holman that possession of alcohol is a crime in the UAE, even if it is inside a person’s body.
Dr Holman then began filming him for evidence she was swarmed by armed police.
The frightened pair were then led to an airport cell and had their phones and passports confiscated before being taken to a police station – where she says a guard tried to rip out her hair extensions.
He told Dr Holman to come with him and for two hours and her daughter were left alone in the cell.
Eventually the police and immigration staff came back.
The police took Dr Holman and Bibi to a police car, with bars and a metal cage.
“Bibi was asking me why we were in a police car and I had no answer,” she said.
Dr Holman claims they were not allowed water, food or even to visit the bathroom for two hours.
“My daughter is a happy, smiley girl, but now she was terrified,” she said.
“My little girl had to go to the toilet on the cell floor. I have never heard her cry in the same way as she did in that cell.”
Dr Holman was told to provide a blood sample for an alcohol test and the results showed 0.04% of alcohol in her blood, which is below the UK drink drive limit.
“I wanted as little stress as possible in front of Bibi,” she said.
They were made to sleep on the floor of a canteen area used by other inmates and didn’t eat for their entire detention.
Finally the pair were given some water.
Bibi was so dehydrated that she drank around a litre of water all to herself.
Next the pair were taken back in the police car to the airport detention facility.
Dr Holman describes it as being an unreal experience.
In the airport prison itself, Ellie could see other inmates and hear fights, although she and Bibi were in a cell on their own.
The guards took out Dr Holman’’s earrings and tried to rip out her hair extensions, according to Detained in Dubai, the lawyers representing her.
Bibi and Ellie badly needed a change of clothes.
It was midnight by now and they were completely drained. The prison was baking hot and foul smelling, with no air conditioning.
For some reason Dr Holman and her daughter were not allowed to sleep in the cell.
They were told to drag a filthy mattress to the big room where the prisoners eat.
The male guards offered no help moving the mattress, and they seemed to find it funny watching Ellie and Bibi struggling with it themselves. The bright lights were left on all night, making it even more difficult to sleep.
“The food smelled like rotting garbage and neither Bibi or I could face trying it. I stayed awake for the whole three days days,” Says Dr Holman.
Some of the other inmates relayed stories of being raped by guards and police officers so Holman tried to stay awake and keep Bibi out of sight.
Meanwhile, her Gary became frantic with worry after he failed to hear from the pair by the time the landed.
When he found out they had been detained he left their other children Suri, nine, and Noah, eight, with relatives and flew to Dubai.
Three days later she was taken back to the airport and released on bail, but so far the situation has cost her £30,000 in legal fees, expenses and missed work.
Dr Holman said: “My passport remains confiscated until the case is settled, which I have been told will take at least a year.
“My practice is closed. All our savings have gone.”
Bibi has been allowed to fly back to the UK with her dad while Dr Holman stays with friends in Dubai awaiting the outcome of her case.