Honeymoon murder: bail blow for groom amid flight fears
A bid to ease restrictions on the movements of wealthy businessman wanted in South Africa over the murder of his wife Anni Dewani on honeymoon has been rejected amid fears he could flee abroad.
City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London was told that there was a “real risk” that Shrien Dewani could abscond unless moves to relax his bail conditions “bit by bit” were halted.
The 31-year-old from Bristol is facing extradition to South Africa where he is accused of hiring two hit men to kill his newly-wed bride, Anni, during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November last year.
He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act earlier this year and is currently staying at Fromeside, a medium secure unit in Bristol.
But a hearing to review his bail conditions yesterday was told that doctors have been unable to give him medication to ease the effects of severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression because of a rare blood condition. He is also said to be too ill to benefit from other forms of therapy.
Clare Montgomery QC, for Mr Dewani, urged the chief magistrate Howard Riddell to ease his bail conditions allowing him to visit his family unescorted, something she said doctors hoped would help his improvement.
She insisted he was “profoundly” ill and had no intention of absconding because he was determined to clear his name.
But Hugo Keith QC, for the South African government, said that the proposal would allow Mr Dewani, who is no longer electronically tagged, to go anywhere he wanted without an escort.
“He could leave and never return and it could be hours before anybody notices, far too late for anyone to do anything,” he said.
He added that, given the gravity of the charge he faces in South Africa, “it would need a stronger man perhaps than Mr Dewani to resist the siren calls of flight.”
Listing a series of relaxations to Mr Dewani’s bail conditions over the past six months, he said: “There is a very real and genuine concern that, bit by bit, incrementally, we have now reached the position where there would be little or no supervision of Mr Dewani for substantial periods of time.”
Refusing the application, the district judge said: "There is bound to be a real fear of extradition to South Africa and that may provide, perhaps in moments of weakness, a real incentive to abscond.”