Mumbai: Send me back to jail, says British national after facing severe destitution
Arrested on trafficking charges, Isle of Man dog-trainer who lost all and is living on the streets of Mumbai pleads court to be sent back to Arthur Road prison
After being released from barrack no. 6 of the Arthur Road jail, a British national is facing destitution so severe that wants to go back to jail. Stuart Quillian, 46, released on bail seven months ago, has moved the Dindoshi Sessions court for imprisonment.
Stuart has no home, no food, no job, and no money and is forced to live on Mumbai's streets. His passport and Visa expired while he was in jail, because of which he has no proof of his nationality and identity.
Stuart Quillian with his four sisters and mother during her 60th birthday celebration in Douglas. Pic courtesy/Barabara Byron
In addition, he is also deprived of treatment for depression and anxiety, for which he used to be taken to Sir JJ Hospital regularly.
On Friday, Stuart, who hails from Douglas, Isle of Man, located 307 kilometers away from England, was at courtroom no. 15, pleading his lawyer, Dhananjay Singh, to convince the court to send him back to Arthur Road jail. He was jailed in March 2017 in a case of alleged human trafficking. Apart from Stuart, 12 others — four Britons, four Sri Lankans and four Indian nationals — were held by the Sahar police. The trip was Stuart's first to India. Two of the Britons held — Captain Fivehats and Julie Ann Warner — died while out on bail a few months ago, increasing Stuart's loneliness.
Stuart Quillian's leg was operated upon at JJ Hospital for an abscess. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Singh, who represented Stuart and Fivehats as the state-appointed free legal aid said, "Soon after their release from Arthur Road jail, Fivehats and Stuart were living in Virar. Later, they moved to Goa where Fivehats died of health problems. And Stuart returned to Mumbai."
"It is unfortunate that a foreign national is being denied of basic rights. Moreover, he has not been getting livelihood support. As such, it is better that he be imprisoned," said senior advocate Dinesh Tiwari, who is conducting the matter before the court. He had helped Stuart and other foreigners get bail pro bono. Tiwari also explained that an accused has the right to determine whether upon granting bail, he wants to go back to jail or remain outside.
An earlier picture of Stuart from when he was in Douglas. Pic/Stuart Quillian
Back home, Stuart used to make a decent living as a dog trainer and fitness instructor. "Today, I sleep under the open sky on Mumbai's beaches. I am compelled to use public toilets and bathrooms. I don't get proper food. Fresh charges would only increase my troubles. The only document I have is a copy of my bail order," Stuart told mid-day.
"I was more secure inside the jail than I am outside," he said. Stuart has also run out of anti-depressants which were being provided to him by JJ Hospital.
"India is a great country and people in Mumbai have been very cordial to me. But at times I do come across people who make fun of me and humiliate me," he said. Stuart has a mobile phone but no SIM card. He relies on free WiFi hotspots to contact his mother and four sisters in the British Isles through an old phone number active on WhatsApp.
What led Stuart to jail?
While Stuart did not want to discuss his case, he cautioned backpackers, especially foreign tourists, to not rely on cheap lodging. According to him, sharing identity documents with cheap hotels and airlines can lead to them being misused. "I did not suspect any foul play, as I came to India from Thailand. I made affordable travel plans in Thailand too. Travel plans for India were made by Julie," said Stuart.
What his plea says
According to Tiwari, Stuart's application read, "He has no identification proof and his passport is marked as article in evidence and kept in custody of the court. His visa has also expired and thus police verification is not done, which is a mandatory requirement for getting a place on rent ... He is in a very pitiable condition." Tiwari also explained that an accused has the right to determine whether upon granting bail, he wants to go back to jail or remain outside.
'I want my son back'
Stuart's mother, Barbara Byron, a 64-year-old widow, told mid-day that she wants her son to come home at the earliest. "He is the eldest of my five children. We manage to send him 30 to 40 pounds every week. All of us miss him but we cannot afford to come to Mumbai," she said.
Stuart had called his mother in 2017 and had told her about his flight back to London. However, after that, his family never heard from him. After rigorous follow up with authorities, including the British High Commission, the family was told about his imprisonment. "Since then, we have been trying to reach out to Stuart, requesting assistance from Britain's Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office, who helped Stuart financially till he was in prison. One of my daughters used to communicate with them," Byron said.
During a conversation on Friday last week, Stuart told his mother about his plans to go back to jail. "We never thought that it would be so difficult to go back to jail. I will not be able to speak with him if he goes back inside, but I will know he is safe," Byron said.
"Once he returns, I will not let him travel anywhere. He should be living with us here," she added.
Did you know
Sources privy to the case said, "The Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office have a 51-page handbook, wherein it is clearly stated that families of Britons held abroad can get help to keep in touch with them. However, they cannot get the under-trial out of prison or detention, nor can they arrange for special treatment for the under-trial. If the under-trial is not treated according to internationally-accepted standards, the two offices can approach local authorities."
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe