DEAF charity worker Ian Stillman is being visited in prison by a Delhi diabetes expert, amid fears that freezing conditions could kill him.

Ian, 52, whose parents live in Tadcaster Road, York, and who had a leg amputated after a road accident, is serving a ten year sentence in India after being convicted of cannabis possession - a charge he has always denied.

His cell, in the foothills of the Himalayas, has no heating or glass in the windows. Temperatures are plunging to below freezing as winter arrives.

His sister, Elspeth Dugdale, said: "When you only have one leg you can't move around to keep warm and he says he actually feels cold from the inside.

"He says he has a cold sensation and a dead feeling in his good leg, which is very bad news, and he is losing a lot of weight. The temperature could also be extremely dangerous for his diabetes. We don't know if he can survive another winter."

Despite suggestions that the Indian Government may be considering a conditional pardon for Ian, the family has still not been offered it. The British High Commission has appointed the diabetes specialist who has agreed to travel to the prison on Tuesday, at Ian's family's expense. He will make a full report on his current state of health.

Elspeth said: "What we want is Ian to be released but, if that doesn't happen, we are asking for a transfer to Chennai where the climate is warmer, there is better access to medical treatment and he is closer to his wife and friends."

Ian, a father-of-two, moved to India nearly 30 years ago to set up a charity which has helped over 1,000 deaf Indians. The Evening Press has been campaigning for his release after he was refused a sign language translator at his trial, an action that effectively excluded him from taking any part.

Updated: 12:18 Monday, November 04, 2002