THIS is the moment a British businessman snapped his first selfie as a free man following a year-long stint at a notoriously violent prison in Algeciras.
Robert Mansfield-Hewitt, 51, was thrown in Botafuegos jail after police happened upon a €5.5 million stash of hashish in the adjoining garage of a house where he was renting a room in San Roque last June.
He would not have his day in court however, until the end of May this year.
The judge ruled that Robert, from Chichester, would not face any charges and was free to go – although he is being forced to pay a €1,500 fine for staying in ‘unlicensed rental accommodation.’
“He was picked up from the jail by a good trusted friend of his, who then subsequently drove him back over the border to safety, in Gibraltar,” best friend Cliff Ruffle, 57, told the Olive Press this week.
“I know we are all relieved and happy, but Robert right now is totally elated.
“Thank you so much to the Olive Press for running the story…I hope you will open up a can of worms as to how unjust the Spanish Legal System really is.”
Robert – who has a PHD and is an avid poet in his spare time – was reportedly teaching his fellow inmates English to pass the time while inside the notorious prison, home to ETA terrorists and murderers.
But for a man with severe liver disease ascites, who had not been getting his medication regularly, if at all, it was 365 days of hell.
Police had been alerted to the garage of the rental property in Campamento – which Robert claims he never stepped foot inside – when a Moroccan man was seen trying to break in.
As the Olive Press reported last year, the home was owned by a man with previous convictions for drug dealing.
But that seemed irrelevant when Robert was taken in front of a judge at San Roque court 48 hours later, who sent him to prison to await trial.
He was denied bail three times, despite suffering serious health issues, which led him to be rushed to hospital on two occasions.
He also still faces losing his home, as the rent has not been paid for months.
“We have just been able to stop the repossession order, but the courts are saying if they don’t hear news shortly it will have to happen,” pal Cliff said just days before he was released.
One bizarre reason for the repeated denial of bail was that investigators found a Japanese ‘Katana’ Samurai sword in the house, which they said constituted a lethal weapon.
Shockingly, it wasn’t until May 27, last month, that he finally had a court hearing.
However, despite attending the court in San Roque, the Olive Press was unable to get into the hearing.
In a document seen by the Olive Press, prosecutors were seeking four years and eight months of jail time and an €8 million fine.
“They offered to let him go if he pleaded guilty,” added Cliff, “But Robert refused, he is a man of great ethics and wanted to fight this to the very end.”
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