The sister of a sailor still being detained in India is hoping 2015 will be the year their 14-month nightmare is over.
Nick Dunn, of Ashington, was among 36 sailors arrested by Indian authorities last October when their security vessel Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on weapon charges.
However, those charges were quashed by an Indian court in July but Nick, who was released on bail in March after six months in prison, still remains in India as police refused to release his passport and have appealed against the charges being quashed.
Now the 28-year-old’s sister Lisa has appealed for the government to do more in helping getting her brother home after he missed his second Christmas with the family.
Speaking to the News Post Leader, she said: “We couldn’t have imagined Nick out there in India for a second Christmas at all. We’re devastated this is still going on and really frustrated now.
“We thought when the charges were quashed in July it would be a couple of weeks until he was home but we’re still no further forward.”
Nick was able to speak to his family and see them via Skype this Christmas, unlike last year when he was held in prison while his mother was in intensive care at the RVI in Newcastle.
Lisa said: “Last year was an horrendous Christmas. This year we were able to speak to him but it’s still just a rubbish Christmas. It’s two Christmases now without him. It’s not as if he chose to work away on Christmas Day. He is being detained illegally.”
Nick’s family have been waiting since October for the appeal hearing to be held, and have been told one could take place at the Supreme Court in late January or early February.
With support from their MP Ian Lavery, the family are calling on the government to intervene to help get Nick and the five other British sailors still being detained released from their Indian hell.
They wrote to the Minister of State before Christmas and were told the department was “doing all it could to raise the case at every opportunity”.
Lisa said: “We want answers to why these lads haven’t had their passports returned.
“The court has given its verdict yet why can the police over-rule it by with-holding their passports?
“Documents have been sent by the court to Nick at his address in Ashington. They assume he is home, not being detained still in India.
“All that needs to happen is the passports returned to the men so they can come home, they don’t need to be in India.
“If they do need to be extradited back then our country should ensure that happens but our country isn’t helping to bring them home.
“Nick feels so abandoned and completely let down by his government. As a British citizen, you expect your country to help you in your time of need, especially when you are proven to be innocent.”
She added: “It’s beyond frustrating now. It’s 14 months of hell, especially as we know Nick is innocent.
“Nick is still in a country he doesn’t want to be in. He can’t work, he can’t do anything. All he does is sit in his room in the hostel or go to the gym every day.
“It won’t be a happy new year knowing he is still out there, but we’re hoping 2015 will see Nick come home.
“Some people believe he is home after the charges were quashed in July and still can’t understand how he is out there when I tell them.
“We’re just trying to keep this in the public eye.”