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Wife of British grandfather facing jail in Dubai fears for his heart condition

Ian MacKeller, 75, travelled to the UAE with his wife Carol, 71, during the festive period to visit their daughter and babysit her young child (Detained In Dubai / SWNS)
Ian MacKeller, 75, travelled to the UAE with his wife Carol, 71, during the festive period to visit their daughter and babysit her young child (Detained In Dubai / SWNS)

The wife of a British grandfather said to be facing jail in Dubai after asking partying neighbours to quieten down has spoken out about her fears for her husband’s heart condition.

Ian MacKeller, 75, travelled to the UAE with his wife Carol, 71, during the festive period to visit their daughter and babysit her young child.

When his daughter’s neighbours hosted a New Year's Eve party, Mr MacKeller, of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, said he went to ask the partygoers to be mindful of noise.

An anxious Carol Mackellar fears for her husband’s health, including a heart issue (BBC)
An anxious Carol Mackellar fears for her husband’s health, including a heart issue (BBC)

He claimed he now stands accused of trespass after the host filed a police report against him, leaving him stranded in the country due to ongoing investigations.

An anxious Mrs Mackellar fears for her husband’s health, including a heart issue. She told the BBC: “I am very worried about his state of health and mind. He’s very stressed, and he’s worried about me.”

She added: “We have no idea when Ian will be allowed to come home. The family are all very distressed.”

Describing Mr Mackellar as a “placid man” and “devoted dad and husband”, she said: “We have been married for 49 years and have never really been apart. I just want him home.”

She described the incident on 1 January as involving “no evil intent” as she expressed her hopes authorities in Dubai would look “favourably” on the case.

Ian MacKeller is said to now face several years in prison (Detained In Dubai / SWNS)
Ian MacKeller is said to now face several years in prison (Detained In Dubai / SWNS)

Mrs Mackellar said her husband merely went to have a “neighbour-to-neighbour” conversation to ask the partygoers to turn the music down a bit. “The music was like being in a nightclub several doors down, it was bouncing,” she said. But some guests became "aggressive", she claimed, with one person even throwing a drink.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed to The Independent: “We are providing consular assistance to a British man in Dubai.”

The family had initially messaged the neighbour at 1am, requesting they turn the music down – but it began to get louder, they claimed.

Mr MacKeller visited the neighbour to ask them to quiet down, taking his infant granddaughter with him to allow his daughter to sleep, as she was expected to work in the early hours of the morning.

He knocked, but after nobody answered the door, Mr MacKeller noticed an open side path leading to the garden, where guests were mingling.

Mr MacKeller said he asked if guests could move the party indoors – but claimed they began to push him and shout at him, knocking his granddaughter’s bottle to the ground. Some partygoers attempted to intervene, advising Ian to leave.

However, as he made his way to the street, he alleged the host approached him, shouting loudly – and even throwing her drink over Mr MacKeller and the baby.

Mr MacKeller described her actions as “unacceptable” and was eager to report the incident to the police, but his daughter refused, nervous to cause tension with her neighbours.

Mrs Mackellar said the police showed up at their door two days later, informing them of the trespass complaint, with Mr MacKeller now facing several years in prison.

He was scheduled to return to Scotland on 10 January, but now remains indefinitely in the UAE, separated from his family and unable to receive medical treatment.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, is working with Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, to set Mr MacKeller free.

She said: “This is a very sad situation. Nobody would ever imagine that a polite request to turn the music down would result in a travel ban and criminal prosecution. Again and again, we are reminded that a simple trip to Dubai can indeed be a one-way ticket. If the case isn’t dropped, Ian will likely end up in prisons notorious for human rights violations, and he simply doesn’t deserve it.”

Ms Stirling explained that it is “standard practice” in Dubai to preemptively file a police report when at risk of being reported and “manipulate” the system. She said: “The prosecution tends to side with whoever makes the first police report, so if someone is at risk of being reported themselves, they will quickly file against the actual victim. This is how people familiar with Dubai justice manipulate the system to their advantage.

“It is commonplace for foreigners in this situation to offer financial compensation to their accuser in order to drop the case.”

Calling for authorities in Dubai to crackdown on this “blatant abuse” of the criminal justice system, she said: “The practice is systemic and will require significant legislative change to stamp it out completely.

“It’s imperative that parliamentary representatives support their constituents where they face injustice. We’re seeing more and more MPs demanding action from the FCDO and foreign ministry counterparts in countries like the UAE, Qatar and Saudi.”

The Independent has approached the Government of Dubai Media Office for comment.