Billionaire Hans Kristian Rausing was formally charged with obstructing the “lawful and decent burial” of his wife, whose body was found in a decomposed state earlier this month in their $109 million mansion in London.
Rausing’s participation in the court proceedings was limited to his stating his name, address, and other personal details. Alexander Cameron, the brother of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is representing Rausing. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 26.
Prosecutors began building their case against Rausing, who is the heir to a $7 billion packaging fortune, by describing how Eva Rausing’s body was found laying beneath a makeshift rug composed of trash bags, sheets, and clothes, the Daily Mail reported. Her body was possibly left in a decomposing state for several weeks. The court also heard that Eva Rausing likely died from a drug overdose, although test results that will reveal the cause and time of her death are pending.
The court also heard testimony about how the Rausings had sealed off the second floor of their mansion with duct tape, where they co-habited in squalor and seclusion, according to the Daily Mail. Eva Rausing was last seen alive May 3 by a financial advisor at the London estate, the court heard.
Rausing was granted bail on the condition that he reside in the confines of a local hospital, where he is undergoing treatment for drug withdrawal, and that a hospital staffer must accompany Rausing if he were to temporarily leave the hospital for any reason, according to the Associated Press.
If convicted, Rausing faces an indefinitely long sentence under UK statutes for preventing a lawful and decent burial, which could theoretically result in lifetime imprisonment. However, those convicted of the crime rarely serve more than a decade.
Eva Rausing’s father, Tom Kemeny, a retired Pepsi executive who lives in the United States, issued a statement in which he said that Eva Rausing had left a drug treatment facility in order to help her husband who was also suffering from his own addiction battles in London.
“At the time of her death her over-riding concern was for the safety of her beloved husband, for whom she interrupted her own treatment to return to London in an attempt to take him back with her to California, but tragically to no avail,” he said in the statement.
In a statement that the Kemeny issued, the family described how Eva Rausing was an active philanthropist who sought to help others who suffered from substance abuse issues: “During her short lifetime, she made a huge philanthropic impact, supporting a large number of charitable causes, not only financially, but using her own personal experiences,” the statement said. “She bravely fought her health issues for many years. The family is devastated at her death and asks to be given privacy at this difficult time.”
Police initially arrested Rausing for possession of cocaine after he was pulled over in London for driving erratically. When they later searched the house, the couple’s Filipino employee tried to block the police from entering Eva Rausing’s room, shouting “out of bounds, out of bounds,” according to the Daily Mail.
Eva Rausing’s death is a tragic conclusion to Eva Rausing’s long history of addiction troubles that she shared with her husband. In 2008, the U.S.-born heiress was arrested with her husband for attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Embassy in London. A search of their Chelsea house after the embassy bust revealed their personal stash of cocaine and heroin. The couple avoided a jail sentence by agreeing to enter a drug treatment program.
After their arrest, Eva Housing showed signs that not only she was suffering from bouts with drug addiction, but that she feared for her life as well.
In an email the Daily Mail published this week that Eva Housing wrote in January 2010 but never sent to her father-in-law, the mother of four wrote that she expected to die soon: “I realize that I will die and there is a part of me that desperately does not want to die and wants to fight, fight, fight but I am sliding and I am desperately calling to you for help,” she wrote. “If nothing changes I will die, Hans. I just felt that I did not want to die without trying everything that I possibly could to reach you and to ask you to please help me. Your son feels very, very hopeless. Although I stick close to him, I am losing my grip because I am weakening.”
On her still active Myspace page, she wrote that her musical interests in Nirvana, Ziggy Stardust, and Radiohead were good for “gloomy moods.” “Could say I’ve been a wee bit down lately!” Rausing wrote.
Rausing also posted on her Myspace page about falling “back into the same hole as before and have been there for nearly seven years.” “I once read that I would have seven bad years (I don’t normally believe in hocus pocus horoscopes) but so far it has been right, and I’m hoping for seven good years starting 2007,” she wrote. “I’m still married, amazingly, to a very kind, patiend [sic] and loyal husband. I’m very lucky that he has stuck with me-many would have not.”
During the weeks and months leading up to Rausing’s death, friends and relatives were unable to establish contact with either Eva or Hans Rausing. Her sister reportedly visited the house in June, but was unable to find Rausing at home. Eva and Hans Rausing also looked disheveled in photos that London’s paparazzi press published earlier this year during the rare occasions when the couple left the house.
Despite Rausing’s personal problems, she continued to make generous donations to charitable foundations. In 2006, she wrote a $391,000 check to the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. She also reportedly donated millions of dollars to drug rehabilitation clinics in the UK and in Barbados, although there is little evidence that she or her husband received treatment at the facilities that she helped to fund.