British tourist jailed for ‘stealing’ his own sunglasses

1412940872979_Image_galleryImage_Picture_shows_Thomas_GreeAn expensive family holiday to Egypt turned into a ‘nightmare’ for a father when he was falsely accused of stealing his own sunglasses.

Thomas Greenhalgh, 33, was lounging by the pool at a four-star hotel in popular resort Sharm el Sheikh when a fellow guest accused him of theft.

The call centre worker initially treated the accusation as a joke because the glasses were £3 Ralph Lauren fakes which he had bought on a previous holiday.

However, the situation soon spiralled out of control as Mr Greenhalgh’s passport was seized, he was taken to court and then locked up in prison for two days and two nights.


The family man from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, endured ‘awful’ conditions with 30 other inmates in a cockroach-infested cell which had no beds or windows. Mr Greenhalgh said: ‘It was a complete nightmare.


‘I was really scared. I thought that was it, I thought I was never going to see my family again.’ His wife Lyndsey, 28, was left bewildered on her own with their children Skye, five, and Summer, 18 months.


The false accusation could have been resolved quickly because the Egyptian man who claimed his sunglasses had been stolen returned home to Cairo and found them.


However, police believed he had been bribed by Mrs Greenhalgh and wouldn’t take his word for it unless he returned to give a personal statement.

Mrs Greenhalgh was forced to find £2,000 in cash to hire an English-speaking lawyer and Mr Greenhalgh was brought back to court. Photographs taken on his mobile phone of him previously wearing the sunglasses were then presented and he was freed.


The couple, who paid £5,000 for the holiday, had to rely on their family to buy new plane tickets as the drama meant they missed their scheduled one home and the extra cost came to £1,500.


Mr Greenhalgh said the guest who accused him seemed to initially accept his denial by the pool at Aqua Blu Hotel but three days later police arrived to arrest him. He said: ‘I thought it was a joke and actually started laughing. I was taken to the police station where no one spoke English.


‘I didn’t know what they were saying and there were no English reps with me. The police officers were nasty. It was horrible. I didn’t get a phone call or access to an English lawyer.’


Once in jail, his ordeal worsened. The cell’s toilet was ‘a hole in the wall’. ‘I was terrified because as soon as I walked in a man asked if I was American, and made me promise I wasn’t, or he would cut me from head to toe,’ he said. Mr Greenhalgh was threatened, sexually propositioned by inmates and forced to crawl on his knees past prison officers.


He credited his wife’s determination for getting him out. The family’s lawyer said he was set free only ‘because he looked like a good man who had children’.


Mr Greenhalgh, who returned home ten days ago, said: ‘I was just so relieved to get home. I’m never going back there again.’


Mrs Greenhalgh, also a call centre worker, described the experience as ‘the worst holiday of her life’. She said: ‘I don’t know how we got through it. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. I was scared of what was going to happen to Tommy.’


A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the arrest of a British national and consular assistance was provided.’

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