Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Honeymoon murder suspect admitted to Priory hospital

Shrien Dewani granted bail extension on condition he is sent to Bristol psychiatric hospital
Shrien Dewani Bail Hearing
Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani leaves Belmarsh magistrates court in south-east London after being granted a bail extension. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A British businessman accused of plotting his wife's murder while they honeymooned in South Africa is to be admitted to the Priory psychiatric hospital.

Shrien Dewani, 31, has been on bail at his family home in Bristol, but South African authorities, who want to extradite him, fear he could try to harm himself after allegedly taking an overdose of pills last month.

Lawyers for both sides agreed that Dewani, who is said to have severe post-traumatic stress syndrome, should be admitted to the Priory in Bristol. He remains subject to £250,000 bail and strict conditions, including a curfew.

Ben Watson, representing the South African authorities, told Belmarsh magistrates court in south-east London he would not oppose bail for Dewani if he were admitted to the Priory.
Watson claimed last month's incident – in which Dewani took 46 tablets including diazepam – could "probably be categorised as a deliberate overdose, given the medical material the court now has".

Julian Knowles QC, for Dewani, referred to a psychiatric report by Professor Nigel Eastman in which the expert suggested it was "unlikely [Dewani] intended to kill himself on this occasion". "He [Eastman] accepts that, whatever happened or didn't happen, there is plainly some risk of self-harm here. His conclusion is that Mr Dewani will be better treated and get better quicker at the Priory."

Knowles said Dewani consented to the bail conditions but said he found it difficult to report to the police because he was "taunted" by the media.

Wearing jogging bottoms and a zip-up navy blue jumper, Dewani, who strongly denies involvement in his wife's murder, looked dishevelled and unshaven for the court appearance. He spoke only to confirm he had understood what had happened. District Judge Howard Riddle ruled that from Wednesday morning Dewani must remain at the Priory.

Riddle said: "I am going to bail you with the variation that I hope you understand. You must understand these conditions because if you don't comply with them, you will lose your bail."

Dewani's wife, Anni, 28, was shot after a taxi the couple were travelling in was apparently hijacked in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town in November. She was found dead in the back of an abandoned taxi next day with a bullet wound to her neck.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo initially said his vehicle was seized by armed men and he and Dewani were ejected before Mrs Dewani was driven away and killed.

After a plea bargain was agreed, Tongo, 31, claimed Dewani offered him money to arrange the killing. He was given a reduced sentence of 18 years in jail.

The Priory in Bristol opened in 1994.

It has residential facilities for 38 people "requiring inpatient care for more severe psychiatric illness such as depression, psychotic illness or eating disorders".