Family and friends of an Ashington sailor being held in an Indian prison have been given hope that he could be released on bail next week.
Nick Dunn has been held Puzhal Central Prison since he and 35 sailors on board the vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio were detained by Indian authorities.
The crew, part of an anti-pirate ship, have been held on charges including firearm offences and illegally entering Indian waters.
But at a hearing at an Indian court today (Thursday), the crew – which includes five other British sailors – were told they could be released on bail next week.
And the news has been warmly welcomed back home by Nick’s family, who are counting down until the hearing next Wednesday to find out of their wishes have come true.
Nick’s sister Lisa said: “I found out just after noon today. It was a tremendous relief.
“It’s still not 100 per cent confirmed that they will get bail but we’re 99 per cent sure.
“After the lawyers for the sailors put their case, the opposition lawyers didn’t object and agreed with some of the points put forward.
“The magistrate has taken it all into account and is happy that the firearms on board were necessary and part of the equipment on the ship. That is a huge step forward, it could mean getting the charges quashed.”
She added: “It won’t seem real and official until Nick rings from India to say that he is out.
“Our lawyers have already filled the motion to quash.
“It’s a huge step forward in the right direction. Finally now I can see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”
On Tuesday, Lisa joined relatives of the other five British sailors to hand a petition signed by more than 143,000 people calling for government support to get the men released from prison.
They have been supported in their battle by the maritime welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers.