STUART Williams went on a holiday to the Caribbean island of Barbados when he was offered a free trip but ended up behind bars in a jail from hell, charged with kidnap and wrongful concealment.

He and four others faced the prospect of spending up to 25 years behind bars.

For the first time Stuart, 26, of Thornbury and his mother Yvonne, 47, have spoken of what happened.

Stuart's story: I was offered a chance of a holiday in Barbados. Someone had dropped out of the trip and an old schoolfriend invited me to go. It was the chance of a lifetime for me so I jumped at the chance.

In hindsight I guess I was pretty stupid to have gone.

At first we did holiday things like sunbathing and jet-skiing and I hired a car.

Arthur wanted to meet his brother and they had a long talk for several hours during one night in the house where we stayed.

The next thing I knew I was woken by armed police and was told I was being charged with kidnapping.

It was like being in a film - it just didn't seem real.

We were all arrested and then we appeared in court and apart from court visits that was the only time I saw sunlight for six months.

I never entered a plea or made a statement to the police.

The prison was a hellhole. I was jailed in a cage 15-ft by 20-ft which had ten bunks, but more men. It was like an oven. Prisoners were held together for all sorts of crimes from murder to rape to drug dealing and other serious crimes.

I had to sleep on a concrete floor and shower in my jeans, as they were the only clothes I had for months. I had to swap my food just to get my hands on a pen so I could write a letter home.

I became ill through lack of exercise; hygiene and food as conditions are so bad.

At one time I was almost persuaded to plead guilty because there might be a chance of a suspended sentence but I was advised not to by a lawyer.

Eventually we were offered bail at £4,500 and stayed on the island for four weeks, before we were allowed home.

When we were told we could come home it was unbelievable. One minute we were facing 25 years in jail and the next we were told we could come home temporarily. It just doesn't make sense.

Stuart Williams, Damien Henson, 31 and his brother Adam, 24, both of Cromhall, Jason Foster, 37, of Wotton-under-Edge and Arthur Watts, 41, of Stroud were arrested in June last year on charges of kidnapping John Watts, Arthur's brother, and his girlfriend Annaclaudia DiEnjoy.

The alleged plot was said to revolve around a £6million inheritance left to John and Arthur by their father Geoffrey in 1995, although most of the fortune was said to have been lost after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The magistrates' court in Barbados was told that John Watts, a Barbadian resident, and his girlfriend were forced into a car and taken to a beach resort, where the five men were arrested.

They appeared in court on remand hearings several times before they were bailed at a cost of £4,500 each. The bail conditions were varied in December and they were given permission to return home of Britain on condition they return to Barbados for the next hearing due in February.

This was adjourned until April.

On July 6 warrants were issued in Barbados for their return to the island.