A FAMILY MEMBER of jailed former Boyne Island-Tannum Sands footballer Troy Birthisel is at a loss to what to do.
As reported in today's The Observer, Birthisel, who played at the BITS Football Club in the late 1980s and early 90s, was arrested in 2013 and charged with human trafficking. He has been in the over-crowded Lapu-Lapu City Jail in the Philippines.
From the Philippines, Mr Birthisel said those charges had since been thrown out but he was still being held on charges of illegal recruitment.
"I'm trying to help him out and really don't know which way to go," the family member, who wishes not to be named, said.
"His consulate has only been to court once and has had 20 cases adjourned.
"He claims his innocence and you can't say a man is guilty before he goes to court."
The family member devoted some of his finances toward his cause on a crowd funding page, but time is running out and given the poor quality of food, Mr Birthisel fears he will starve to death.
"They are very poor conditions and you have to buy your own bed and pay for better food and luxuries," the family member claimed.
"You even have to have a court order to get a doctor to visit you."
Mr Birthisel's mum Dorothy, who passed away in 2013, was a founding member at BITS while Mr Birthisel played in the club's formative years.
"I started in the club's second or third year and was also on the committee," Mr Birthisel said.
David and Peter Mayfield were childhood neighbours of Mr Birthisel at Boyne Island and the trio grew up playing football together at BITS. They said they were rocked to the core by the situation their friend found himself in.
He said Mr Birthisel was a talented player and was a member in the 1987 reserve-grade premiership year in which he also won the best and fairest.
"He was a good player," David Mayfield said.
"He's probably just about lost everything so far.
"It's a surprise to all of us because he always helps out people and he's a good caring guy."
Mr Birthisel looks gaunt and has lost weight in the pictures obtained by The Observer.
He said he tries to stay fit and healthy and the other saving grace is having occassional personal visits from the chaplain who speaks English.
"I try and have two meals a day," Mr Birthisel told The Observer.
"It's usually some rice and about a cup full, plus something to go with it like sardines."
But sometimes his diet goes "up a class".
"A piece of chicken if I'm lucky, or some lumpia which are small spring rolls," he said
"Lately I've been lucky to get some care packages of food from some local friends."