Family’s distress after Billy is refused bail

Yvonne, Billy and baby William
Yvonne, Billy and baby William

The brother of a former UK soldier who has been sentenced to five-years in prison in India is devastated that he’s been refused bail.

Jamie Irving (40) from Bearsden, insists that his brother Billy is innocent.

He was imprisoned for firearms charges in October 2013, along with five other ex-British soldiers and 29 crew members.

Customs officials and police found 35 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition on board the ship which did not have permission to be in Indian waters.

Ex-paratrooper Billy (37) was working on an anti-piracy ship, owned by American company Advantfort, guarding an area which is known as ‘pirates alley’ between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

He says coastguards asked them to follow them into Indian territory to check the vessel.

The men have consistently denied any wrongdoing and claim they have been abandoned by their American employers.

Billy’s family will now have to wait until the 1st of June for the main appeal.

Jamie said: “He faces at least another four months locked up in that hell hole, with no communications with family and friends.

“His letters take five or six weeks to reach us and we don’t know whether he receives ours when we post them.

“We need to let him know that we are all still fighting his case.

“He is allowed to see people once every two weeks, but only for an hour unless we bribe the guards with cigarettes.

“Their lives and freedom has been stolen from them, and all for what?

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are not doing enough to help.

“They have told us they will visit him once every three months but that’s nowhere near enough.

“These men need to be told what’s happening.

“At the moment they haven’t got a clue unless one of us visits, and that’s expensive.”

Billy’s fiancee Yvonne, from Glasgow, has flown out to India several times during the past two and a half years to visit him.

They have a one year old son, William, and Yvonne says this verdict has left her with little hope of getting Billy back before William starts school, which has left her ‘completely crushed’.

Yvonne has gathered 350,000 signatures for a petition on to get Billy freed.

Family visits to India are costing thousands of pounds just to get there, along with accommodation costs. The family is raising money to cover these costs. To help visit if you’d like to donate.