A family who have been on a rollercoaster of emotions over the last nine months say there could be light at the end of the tunnel after charges against a pirate hunter were quashed.
The family of Nick Dunn, 28, are hoping the Ashington sailor could be home next week after an Indian judge quashed charges against him and his colleagues.
Nick had been among 36 sailors arrested by Indian authorities last October when their security vessel Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on weapon offences.
After six months in prison they were granted bail in March but remained in India while laywers for American company Advan-Fort fought to have the charges dropped.
Now an Indian judge has quashed the charges.
Nick’s sister Lisa, who has battled for the last nine months to have her brother released, said: “When we heard the charges had been quashed it was just a huge relief.
“It felt like a huge weight had been lifted and that I could breathe again. I kept asking Nick if he was sure.
“We’ve had nine months of a rollercoaster and we feel like we are walking through quick-sand dealing with the Indian authorities.
“We still have an element of caution. Until he lands at Newcastle Airport that’s when I’ll finally come to terms with realising he’s finally home and it’s real.”
She added: “The last nine months have been the longest nine months of our lives, every day has felt like a year.
“Even though there are 35 other families going through this, I wouldn’t wish any other family goes through this.
“It’s had a massive affect on our whole family. My mother’s health deteriorated really badly over Christmas. The last nine months have nearly destroyed our family.”
The legal ruling was being finalised on Tuesday, with Nick facing a 24-hour round trip to get his belongings and passport from the ship which is still being held in Tuticorin.
Once all the paperwork has been completed, Nick will finally be able to fly home, which his family believe could be early next week.
Lisa said: “We thought he could potentially be on a flight home this weekend but I’ve spoken to Nick and he said it’s likely to be Sunday or Monday.
“They don’t have visas at the minute so we need them out the country as soon as possible, the last thing we want is for them to be arrested for not having a visa.
Nick was held with held with five other British work colleagues after what they thought was a routine paperwork check led to them all being arrested for illegal possession of weapons.
He was released on bail from Puzhal Prison in Chennai, but was subject to strict conditions and had to remain in Chennai.
Once released on bail, Nick was put up in a good hotel but within a month had been moved to a lower ‘grade’ hotel with his family helping pay for his stay out there.
Lisa said: “It’s been awful, you can’t relax. Nick hasn’t been able to relax at all. He has just been sitting in his hotel room, it’s almost like being in a comfortable prison.”
AdvanFort chief executive Sam Farajallah said: “This has been a long waited for decision and we’d like to thank everyone who had continuous faith in us, offered support and helped us get through this challenge.”