A Scot who faced a year behind bars in the Middle East after being caught with a cannabis grinder has celebrated Christmas at home after prosecutors dropped drug charges.
Conor Howard, from East Lothian, was locked up in Corfu after he flew out to visit his mum and stepdad in August.
The 27-year-old, known as Milky to pals, was arrested on an Interpol notice after Qatar authorities said they found drugs on him when he passed through the Middle Eastern state last October on the way back from a work trip to Australia.
He was released and thought his ordeal was over until being arrested in Greece months later where he spent weeks in a cell.
Following a court hearing on the Greek island at the start of November, Conor was told he was ‘free to go’.
He hopes to put his hellish experience ‘in the past’ after he returned home to Scotland to ring in the new year with his girlfriend.
The Scot is now celebrating after Middle Eastern prosecutors dropped drug charges following a campaign backed by influential lawyer Radha Stirling and Kenny MacAskill MSP.
Speaking of his ordeal Conor said: “There were times in the cell in Greece that I thought I might never get back home again.
“I had no idea what was happening to me day to day so I’m obviously very happy to be home and seeing people and getting back to normal.
“When we had finished the hearing I got an email from Kenny MacAskill’s office saying it all the charges in Qatar had been dropped.
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with the British embassy and Qatar just to be double sure that this doesn’t happen again.
“But I’m happy this is the end of it and I can leave it in the past. “
During his weeks in jail Connor said he made unlikely allies with his two cell mates- who spoke nearly no English.
He added: “I was in a quarantine cell for 17 days with two other guys.
“They didn’t really speak English and they were from Albania.
“But we got close and spoke just through writing and drawing pictures on a notepad.
“When you’re stuck in a room together you have to make friends.”
Stepdad Robert said Christmas came early for the family who managed to get on the last direct flight back to the UK in time for the festive period.
He said: “Everything is now clear, we are all back home and it is fantastic.
“We got back from the court hearing and were told that it had all been dropped by Interpol and the Qataris.
“We managed to get the last direct flight back to the UK from Corfu.
“It was a great early Christmas present.”
Conor’s picture has now been removed from the Interpol website.
He spent the holidays at his home in Tranent while Robert and mum Adele enjoyed the festivities in Prestonpans.
Robert added that Conor had now been given back his old job in train repairs.
He said: “I think he is now just looking to the future and looking to put the whole thing in the past.
“It was a hellish experience for the family.
“But now he is looking forward and trying to forget it.
“He is looking at buying a house with his girlfriend and has his job back.
“We are all just settling back into it I think.”
Radha Stirling said the upcoming World Cup in the country forced prosecutors to drop charges in what would have been a ‘potential PR nightmare for the state’.
She said: “Qatar would not have wished for Conor to be arrested again in another country.
“Such an arrest would have raised too much media alarm against the country that’s been under a lot of media scrutiny this year.
“I am very happy we were able to bring Conor home and privileged to have helped him and his lovely family.”
During the legal battle over Conor, pals and family dug deep to support the Scot raising thousands for the family.
Robert added: “We have been over-the-moon with the support we have received.
“We are all now looking forward.”