Prison nightmare for businessman accused of stockpiling hashish

IT should have been a straight-forward business trip, and engineer Robert Mansfield-Hewitt had rented a room in what seemed an ordinary apartment, in San Roque, in the Cadiz province of Andalucia.

He was preparing to attend meetings in Gibraltar, but what the 51-year-old engineer didn’t know was that someone was using the adjoining garage to stockpile 1.5 tonnes of hashish, worth a whopping €5.5m.

The Chichester man found out the hard way when he was arrested and handcuffed in a dramatic raid on the property last June.

And, despite urgent appeals from family and friends, as well as his local MP in the UK, he has since been locked up in Algeciras’ notorious Botafuegos prison, home to ETA terrorists and murderers.

Hewitt. who has a PHD and is an avid poet in his spare time, had been incarcerated held behind bars for exactly one year yesterday (Thursday).

For a man with ascites, a severe liver disease, who has not been getting his medication regularly, if at all, it has now been 366 days of hell.

Police were alerted to the rental property’s garage of the rental property, which Robert claims he never stepped foot inside, when a Moroccan man was seen trying to break in.

As the Olive Press online newspaper reported last year, the home was owned by a man with previous convictions for drug-dealing, and Mansfield had a business he worked with in Gibraltar.

But that seemed irrelevant, when, 48 hours later, Robert was placed before a judge at San Roque court, who sent him to prison to await trial.

He has since been denied bail three times, despite suffering serious health issues, which led to him to being rushed to hospital on two occasions.

His health is still “touch and go”, according to a close friend and neighbour in the UK. Worse than that, he faces losing his home there because the rent has not been paid for months.

“It’s just awful, and the authorities in Spain are burying their heads in the sand,” said Cliff Ruffle, 57, who has known Mansfield for years.

“Rob is a lovely, lovely guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s a sensitive soul, and it’s just awful what is happening.”

The teacher added that Mansfield is “just a hair’s width” from losing his rented home in Emsworth, Hampshire.

“We have just been able to stop the repossession order, but the courts are saying that if they don’t hear news shortly, it will have to happen,” he said.

“I’ve written so many emails to different government departments, and I feel as though I’m banging my head against a wall.”

Hewitt, despite his deteriorating health condition, along with a lack of evidence, continues to be detained.

One bizarre reason for the denial of bail was that investigators found a Japanese ‘Katana’ Samurai sword in the house, which, they said, constituted a lethal weapon.

And. shockingly, it wasn’t until 27th May this year that he finally had a court hearing.

Prosecutors are said to be seeking four years and eight months of jail time for him, as well as an €8m fine. Yet an official court verdict, which was meant to have been delivered within 10 days, has yet to be made.

“They offered to let him go if he pleaded guilty,” said his UK supporter and friend, Ruffle. “But Robert refused. He is a man of great ethics and will fight this to the very end.”

Meanwhile, his friend of 20 years, Vicar and RAF Padre Rebekah Cannon has also described the “hopeless” situation as “a stalemate”.

Hewitt’s PA, Pillie Ford, told the Olive Press: “It has now gone beyond the limits. This is an innocent man… and the real man in question is hiding in Gibraltar.”



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