GRANDAD Steve Grant is under house arrest in Dubai after an international court battle over two kidnapped Portsmouth children took another heartbreaking twist.
He was left trapped and fast running out of money when his decision to fly to the Gulf in a desperate bid to see his young grandchildren backfired dramatically.
I have just about run out of money. I am going mad here.Steve Grant
The 58-year-old Southsea civil engineer was arrested on arrival at Dubai airport five weeks ago and accused of harassing the youngsters’ Omani grandfather, Badar Mohammed Al-Barwani.
He said: ‘I have just about run out of money. I am going mad here.’
Mr Grant’s ordeal began when he set out to deliver a video message from his daughter Lacey Plato to her children Aisha and Faris.
Aisha, ten, and her seven-year-old brother Faris are in Oman with their paternal grandmother after their father, Usama Al-Barwani, took them illegally from their Portsmouth home during a visit to his estranged partner in 2012.
Mr Al-Barwani is now in jail for contempt after defying a High Court order to return them despite an international arrest warrant, which could not be served in Oman as Interpol has no jurisdiction there.
He was held by police at Heathrow when he returned to the UK just before Christmas. But although he was told by the courts that he can go free if the children are returned, he has refused to do so. Ms Plato has found internet access to her son and daughter has not been possible since November, which led Mr Grant to fly to the Gulf in the hope of delivering the video message from her and checking that Aisha and her brother are well.
‘I travelled through Dubai because the flights are cheaper’ he said. ‘But I was stopped at the airport and taken to a police station at Al Rashadia.
‘Usama’s father lives in Dubai. I’d been trying to negotiate with him about the children’s future but he sent me messages that were abusive to Lacey.
‘I had a go back at him. It was nothing more than handbags at dawn, but police here told me I had been accused of threatening to kill him.
‘They have taken my passport away and I cannot leave until the case is resolved. But each day that passes with nothing happening is costing me all my money. I was in a hotel for two weeks but now am lucky enough to have been offered accommodation by a friend of a friend who lives here.
‘I had to hire a local lawyer and that cost me £6,000 up front. And I am not earning any money as I am self employed back home. It is just a nightmare.’
Arrest is latest blow for mother of abducted children
STEVE Grant’s family in England say they are frustrated at the time it has taken for the police and prosecutor’s office in Dubai to make any progress in the investigation.
He would not talk about the police inquiry, but said that he hoped matters could be resolved soon despite finding it difficult to get support from the British government.
‘My lawyer says it is just a minor case which, even if I was convicted, would only mean a fine of around £300.
‘I’ve made contact with the British Embassy but have been told that they cannot get involved in an ongoing police case here’ he said.
His incarceration is a new blow for his daughter Lacey Plato, who in 2013 made an unsuccessful plea to David Cameron to help her get her children back.