Dylan Healy POW released from Ukraine details his ordeal
British aid worker Paul Urey, who died in Ukraine after being tortured by Russian thugs, sent a tragic final message to his family before he passed away – saying: “Tell them I love them so much.” Paul’s moving words were relayed to his daughters, Courtney, 17, and Chelsea, 21, by Dylan Healy, who was working alongside him when both were ambushed and detained during an aid mission in the country.
And the girls, whose family had to pay £10,000 to bring their father’s body home, have spoken of their relief at finally knowing the truth – as well as their anguish at the loss of their father.
Dylan, 22, travelled to join the Ukrainian Foreign Legion after Vladimir Putin’s invasion on February 24 – but opted not to sign up after becoming alarmed at their lack of organisation and weaponry.
Instead, he became an aid worker alongside 45-year-old Paul, who had been rejected by the Foreign Legion on health grounds, given he was a diabetic.
Dylan Healy, left, comforts Paul’s daughters Courtney and Chelsea
Dylan Healy pictured with parents Cliff and Helen
The pair were captured in May while on a mission to rescue a mum and two children from the occupied region of Zaporizhzhia, one of four annexed by Vladimir Putin last week.
Forced to kneel by the roadside, they feared the worst, but instead a soldier fired a shot into the ground between them and they were taken to prison.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Dylan, from Eastbourne, said: “Me and Paul promised that if anything happened we would speak to each other’s families.
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Dylan Healy said he and Paul Urey were beaten and waterboarded during their captivity
“He said, ‘Let my family know I love them, that I thought about them every day.’ I never thought I’d have to do it – after we were captured, I thought we’d both die.”
Months of mistreatment by operatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) followed, including beatings, electric shocks and waterboarding as they tried to extract confessions.
Both were brought to a prosecutor’s office, presented with charges of “mercenary activities” on July 8 and forced to sign a document at gunpoint.
In a chilling insight into his friend’s final days, Dylan claimed guards had mistreated Paul on the way back to jail, saying: “They did something to make him scream for 10, 20 seconds.
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Dylan Healy, 22, was an aid worker when he was arrested
Dylan Healy was meeting Courtney and Chelsea for the first time
“I don’t think I’ll ever hear someone scream like that again. That was the last time I saw Paul alive.”
When he died two days later, Paul’s captors blamed “stress and medical reasons” – but Ukrainian authorities who subsequently recovered his body claimed there were clear indications of torture.
Along with four other British men, Dylan was freed on September 21 in a deal partly brokered by Saudi Arabia.
He admitted he had been worried about meeting Paul’s children, who live in Warrington in Cheshire – but he was at least able to assure them that their dad had been given his diabetes medication.
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Dylan told them: “He was desperate to make it home to see you.”
Courtney said: “It was difficult hearing what Dad went through, but at least we know the truth now.
“At one point there were reports he’d been dismembered. That was awful, but thankfully untrue.”
“I’m so grateful we heard it from him and not someone else.
Aiden Aslin, another hostage released last month, arriving home in Newark
“We didn’t want to pressure Dylan, didn’t want him to think he was being interrogated again. We’re just so happy he agreed to meet us.”
With the Foreign Office refusing to pay to bring him back, the family had to cover the costs themselves – and are now preparing for his funeral, to which they have invited Dylan, pending a post-mortem examination.
Dylan, and four other British men – Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, Andrew Hill and John Harding – subsequently appeared in a court on August 15 , where Dylan switched his plea from not guilty to being a mercenary and “undergoing training to seize power by force”.
The case was adjourned and barely a month later they were released and flown back to Britain – but not before one of Dylan’s cowardly guards gave him one final vicious punch in the face.