Grooverider has given his first interview to the BBC about his ten months in prison in Dubai.
“I got on a plane to go to Dubai to play a gig. I was picking up my luggage and the customs inspector came over to me and he said, ‘Can I check on your bags?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, of course,’ because I didn’t think nothing was wrong. He checked through my bags and found nothing. He checked through my bags and found nothing. Then he found a bit of dust in the trouser pocket. It was marijuana but it was a very, very small piece. It was just under a joint that was loose in the pocket that had been washed out.”
While under police custody, he said he was allowed to use his cell phone and thought he’d get a slap on the wrist until he met a few fellow Brits in the detention area. “I saw a couple of English guys and they said to me, ‘What are you in for?’ I said, ‘They found a little bit of dust, weed in my pocket. He said, ‘You know you’re going to be here for four years.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. When I heard four years, I kind of dropped a little bit, I nearly fell on the floor.”
The legendary drum ‘n’ bass DJ said he passed the time by reading and playing chess. Now that he’s a free man, Grooverider is eager to return to DJing and making music.
Free at last, free at last, thank god all mighty, free at last! English Drum ‘n’ bass DJ Grooverider (Raymond Bingham) has been pardoned by the Dubai Royal Family. He was released from prison on Thursday after serving ten months of a four year sentence for possessing 2.16 grams of cannabis and pornographic material. Grooverider was arrested at Dubai airport last November, and although he claimed he was unaware of the contraband found in his bag and the country’s no-tolerance policiies, the DJ was convicted and imprisoned. According to the BBC, the DJ, who helmed a popular weekly show on Radio One with Fabio, has already flown home to spend time with his family and friends. Grooverider’s release comes during Ramadan, a holy time in September when Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, traditionally pardons foreigners caught with small amounts of narcotics.
Grooverider is included on a list of possible pardons which will be dealt with during Ramadan, which falls in September. Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, traditionally pardons foreigners caught with small amounts of narcotics during religious holidays. The pardon would have come during a period which coincided with the birthday of the prophet Mohammed.
Last November, Grooverider was arrested at Dubai International Airport after a customs search revealed he was in possession of two grams cannabis and a pornographic DVD. Though he had hoped for an early release, some speculate that the government is using him as an example of their zero-tolerance against those who attempt to bring drugs and pornography into the country.
Nearly 17,000 people have signed an online petition asking th government of Dubai to pardon English drum ‘n’ bass DJ/producer Grooverider.
A spokesman for the DJ’s management said: “He’s bearing up but desperate to get out.”
In 2007, 59 Britons were arrested for drug related offenses in Dubai. In a related story, an English woman is facing six years in prison for allegedly having sex on a Dubai beach.