A man from Bournemouth has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Morocco after purchasing a drink with what turned out to be fake money.
Oliver Andrews, 29, has spent the last five months awaiting trial, but it was reported that he has been jailed for 10 years after using the notes last year, on November 11.
Both Mr Andrews and a friend were arrested mere hours before they were due to fly back after holidaying in Rabat, the country’s capital city.
Andrews maintains that he had no idea the notes were fraudulent, but his sentencing came on April 11, to which his partner, Alanna Cornick, said was the “worst possible outcome”.
“I’ve been an absolute mess. I’m lost for words – I literally can’t believe it,” she added.
The Moroccan prison service, which is run on a tight budget of around £180,000 a year, is not known for the consideration of its prisoners; overcrowding is rife despite a framework being in place for a minimum amount of space per prisoner. Andrews claims that he has suffered maltreatment throughout his incarceration, accusing the Moroccan police of brutality, on several occasions, to those in custody.
Reportedly, neither defendant was given access to either legal aid or a translator when they were being questioned. They were “pressured into signing foreign paperwork” which they didn’t fully understand, the family says.
Andrews is said to require daily medication for a heart condition, but according to his family he has been unable to access his pills for over a month.
Previously, Ms Cornick wrote on Facebook: “We all know that this situation of paying with cash of which some of it turns out to be a counterfeit can happen to absolutely anyone.”
Speaking from Morocco and via the family, Mr Andrews’ solicitor explained that both defendants had been charged with possessing and distributing counterfeit money within the country, and one count of creating an organised criminal group.
When Mr Andrews was visited by his solicitor the family said: “he was in a very deteriorating mental and physical state” as without his medication “his blood circulation was slowing down”.
Ms Cornick understands he is being kept in “cramped spaces” with 32 people in a 12-man cell, with no bedding or fresh air.
She wrote on Facebook: “When we visited him in the prison, he was in a very deteriorating mental and physical state and had begun to entertain suicidal thoughts due to not being able to communicate with anyone because of the language barrier.”
Zoe, the mother of Mr Andrews said that she felt deserted and let down by the UK Government in an interview with the BBC. She said it is not legal help they are after, but merely assurances of her son’s welfare.