Ex-Grenadier Guardsman Robin Berlyn, who is trapped in Dubai after being caught up in a fake cheque scam made a dramatic attempt to flee the country by swimming two miles across the Persian Gulf

Ex-Grenadier Guardsman Robin Berlyn, who is trapped in Dubai after being caught up in a fake cheque scam made a dramatic attempt to flee the country by swimming two miles across the Persian Gulf

A former British soldier trapped in Dubai for seven years after being caught up in a fake cheque scam made a dramatic attempt to flee the country by swimming two miles across the Persian Gulf.

Ex-Grenadier Guardsman Robin Berlyn, 50, fought treacherous offshore currents and used his rucksack as a flotation device under cover of darkness.

He made it along the coast to neighbouring Oman but as he tried to cross steep mountainous terrain, he fell 30ft down a near-vertical cliff-face, badly injuring his knee.

Despite the injury, he reached a nearby port in the sparsely-populated enclave of Musandam, but was spotted by Omani police.

But instead of being deported to the UK, as he hoped, he was sent straight back to Dubai.

Mr Berlyn cannot leave the UAE country because of his involvement with a fraudulent business in which he says he was made the scapegoat.

With a disputed debt still resting on his head, his passport has been confiscated and he is not allowed to work. He is being supported in his bed to leave by Detained in Dubai.

His fiancée Yvonne Lewis, an NHS worker with the elderly from Rayleigh, Essex, says she despairs of ever being reunited with him and fears he will lose the will to live.

‘I feel so helpless,’ the 51-year-old told MailOnline. ‘Robin has been taken advantage of by these criminals. The Dubai police and judge know it. They have admitted it, but they won’t let him go.

‘They are saying he will never be free, and without money they don’t care if he starves to death. It’s a death sentence.’

He made it along the coast to neighbouring Oman but as he tried to cross steep mountainous terrain, he fell 30ft down a near-vertical cliff-face, badly injuring his knee

He made it along the coast to neighbouring Oman but as he tried to cross steep mountainous terrain, he fell 30ft down a near-vertical cliff-face, badly injuring his knee

But instead of being deported to the UK, as he hoped, he was sent straight back to Dubai. Mr Berlyn cannot leave the UAE country because he is wanted over a fraud for which he says he has been made a scapegoat

But instead of being deported to the UK, as he hoped, he was sent straight back to Dubai. Mr Berlyn cannot leave the UAE country because he is wanted over a fraud for which he says he has been made a scapegoat

His passport has been confiscated and he is not allowed to work. He is being supported by Detain in Dubai. Pictured: His leg injury

His passport has been confiscated and he is not allowed to work. He is being supported by Detain in Dubai. Pictured: His leg injury

After serving in the army, Mr Berlyn’s skills in close protection and evasive driving led to him working for the high-security Government Car Service, ferrying around high-profile politicians and senior judges.

He also drove for the Queen’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson, but then moved into commodities broking in London.

He was offered a job in Dubai by his employer, businessman Renwick Haddow, who subsequently turned out to be a crook and now faces a 40-year sentence in the US for running Ponzi schemes. 

Mr Berlyn, who says he was unaware of his employer’s chequered past, fell foul of the Dubai authorities in 2013 when Haddow’s company, Platinum Commodities, went bust.

‘I didn’t know it then,’ Mr Berlyn said, ‘but Renwick was a fraudster. He was setting up the new company as a fraud operation and I was being set up to take the blame when it all went wrong.

‘I found out later that Renwick and other bosses were syphoning off the money for themselves.

‘They gave me one excuse after another as to why the clients wouldn’t get their money. I had very little money and nowhere else to go.’

So instead of the dream job he was promised in the glitzy emirate as ‘CEO’ of the firm, Mr Berlyn found himself being thrown in jail because cheques he says he was writing in good faith had bounced – a criminal offence in Dubai.

His fiancée Yvonne Lewis, an NHS activity worker with the elderly from Rayleigh, Essex, says she despairs of ever being reunited with him. ‘I feel so helpless,' the 51-year-old told MailOnline. 'Robin has been taken advantage of by these criminals.

His fiancée Yvonne Lewis, an NHS activity worker with the elderly from Rayleigh, Essex, says she despairs of ever being reunited with him. ‘I feel so helpless,’ the 51-year-old told MailOnline. ‘Robin has been taken advantage of by these criminals.

He was offered a job in Dubai by his employer, businessman Renwick Haddow, who subsequently turned out to be a crook and is now serving a 40-year sentence in the US for running Ponzi schemes

He was offered a job in Dubai by his employer, businessman Renwick Haddow, who subsequently turned out to be a crook and is now serving a 40-year sentence in the US for running Ponzi schemes

Before his arrest, he said he co-operated fully with British detectives who flew out to Dubai on the trail of Haddow and his cronies.

Haddow, 52, was extradited from Morocco to the US and has admitted wire fraud in a connection with Ponzi schemes called Bar Works and Bitcoin Store Inc. 

He could face up to 40 years, but sentencing has been delayed until later this month while he assists the FBI investigation.

Mr Berlyn himself served more than 20 months in a Dubai jail for the bounced cheques, most of it in a squalid cell ‘the size of a boxing ring’ with 30 other prisoners and one toilet.

On his eventual release, he was thrown straight back inside because an angry investor was still pursuing his company in a civil case for an alleged debt of £104,000 arising from the bounced cheques. As former CEO, he was still held legally responsible, and his passport was confiscated.

Since then, there have been numerous court appearances and short jail spells, but Mr Berlyn, forbidden from working, has survived hand to mouth with occasional earnings from teaching martial arts, as he is an expert in Muay Thai kickboxing.

Time and again, the disgruntled creditor who Mr Berlyn says has powerful friends in the UAE government, has tracked him down and reported him to the authorities for working illegally.

His bid for freedom earlier this year nearly cost him his life after he set out on the hazardous journey at nightfall hoping to make it to the port of Limah and from there in a boat away from the Gulf.

Mr Berlyn, diagnosed with PTSD since leaving the army in 1990 after serving in Northern Ireland and Belize, has contemplated suicide many times and has never seen his three-year-old grandson.   

Radha Stirling, from Detained in Dubai, said: ‘Robin’s honesty, integrity, and sense of duty were seen by his employers as the perfect traits of a patsy.

‘He was hired in Dubai to be a scapegoat, and he took the fall with the stoicism of a soldier.

He is being represented by legal support group Detained in Dubai and its CEO Radha Stirling said: ‘Robin’s honesty, integrity, and sense of duty were seen by his employers as the perfect traits of a patsy'

He is being represented by legal support group Detained in Dubai and its CEO Radha Stirling said: ‘Robin’s honesty, integrity, and sense of duty were seen by his employers as the perfect traits of a patsy’

‘The British government knows full well that he was preyed upon by conmen whom UK law enforcement officials were themselves pursuing, and we strongly urge the Foreign Office to intervene on Robin’s behalf to finally bring an end to his ordeal and help him come home.’

In the last few months, Mr Berlyn has been helped with accommodation and crisis food payments by the Royal British Legion and has also received help from a Dubai based charity.

A Foreign, Commonwealth & Development spokesman said: ‘We are supporting a British man in Dubai and his family, and our staff are in contact with the Emirati authorities about his case.’

The UAE Government did not respond to enquiries.



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