FRIENDS and family have been rallying round a seriously ill British man who spent Christmas and new year behind bars in Andalucia.
Robert Mansfield-Hewitt, 51, still insists he knows nothing about a €5.5million haul of hashish found in a San Roque rental property he stayed at on a business trip seven months ago.
The Chichester engineer, who has severe liver disease ascites, has been ‘miserable’ and ‘confused’ at having to spend the festive season locked up.
Mansfield-Hewitt is still yet to be charged and have his day in court, after he was denied bail twice over the offence, with one reason being that a Japanese ‘Katana’ Samurai sword was found in the house.
The judge refused bail for the second time on September 27 given the ‘quantity of drugs seized, which were located in the garage and patio, and the presence of a Katana weapon in the living room’, stated in court documents obtained by the Olive Press.
His lawyer, Jose Maria Castro Escudero, applied for bail a third time in December and is awaiting a response from the judge.
The Brit, who has a PhD, has been in Algeciras’ Botafuegos prison – which houses ETA terrorists – since June 27 after 1.5 tonnes of drugs were found in the garage of the rental home in Campamento.
Chichester MP Gillian Keegan has been demanding answers since the Olive Press brought the story to her in September.
His PA, Pilar Ford, 54, told the Olive Press she organised a raffle and raised €200 as a Christmas present for him to buy books, shampoo and telephone credit to call friends and family – something he has not had the money to do.
“He’s locked up in a hell hole and was absolutely devastated to spend Christmas there,” said Ford who works alongside the Brit at electrical company Genco Holdings Ltd in Gibraltar.
“A couple of months ago he was even stuck in solitary confinement. Imagine that, an innocent man? He keeps asking ‘why am I here?’ and asks us to get him out. We just don’t know what to do. It’s so sad.”
Ford, who usually visits him fortnightly, is extremely concerned about his health, after doctors said he ‘almost died’ with his ‘liver functioning at 15%’ following his incarceration in June.
“Robert is doing better than before, but he’s still not well – he needs a walking stick and for some reason he’s not been given one. He also told me he has to go back into the hospital wing soon,” added Gibraltarian Ford.
Meanwhile, friend of 20 years, Vicar and RAF Padre Rebekah Cannon, based in Chichester, has also described the ‘hopeless’ situation as ‘a stalemate’.
She is exasperated that she has not been able to reach her friend for months, as telephone calls are not permitted unless he has enough credit to call her.
Meer letters have arrived in Spain, they are all returned to sender without being opened.
“It’s all one way, he sends us letters but we can’t get in touch. Even his family haven’t got their letters through the prison,” she told the Olive Press.
“Robert has to request permission for our visits, but since we can’t talk to him and none of us speak Spanish, we just don’t know what to do.”
She said one friend has managed to get in touch and is hoping to fly to Spain in the coming months to visit him in prison.
It is believed the owner of the rental property – a 62-year-old Moroccan-Gibraltarian – has still not been arrested in connection to the stash.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged last year with the possession of cocaine into Gibraltar with intent to supply. The case was later dropped.