Alban's life worth 'less than a Chanel purse' – cousin

2016-05-22 17:05
Diego Dougherty. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Diego Dougherty. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town  If the man accused of killing her cousin during a holiday in Cape Town was released on bail, Gabriela Kabrins Alban’s life would be worth less than the price of a Chanel purse, Laura Baril said on Sunday.

“How can he even be considered to be released?” she said from her Los Angeles home. "Gabi was killed so brutally. She was unrecognisable when her body had to be identified. She deserves justice.”

Alban’s boyfriend, Guatemalan Diego Dougherty, was charged with murder after she was found dead in their room at the upmarket Camps Bay Retreat Hotel on July 29 last year.

The US marketing consultant died as a result of strangulation and had blunt force trauma to the face, it was revealed in court last week.

Through his lawyer William Booth, Dougherty indicated he would be able to pay R100 000 bail, but the amount was "very flexible" and more could be raised if needed.

An incensed Baril said this translated to less than $6 500. “That’s the price of a Chanel purse. Is that what her life was worth?” she asked.

“He and his family are worth millions. They are powerful people. The minute he is released, he will be gone.”

The state has opposed bail as it believes Dougherty is a flight risk.

Family traumatised

Hotel staff found her body in the couple's room. She had defensive wounds on her arms. Nothing was stolen from her and there was no forensic evidence to suggest a third person was in the room at the time of the assault.

The room was chaotic and food was strewn around. Foreign currency and iPhones were taken in as exhibits.

Baril said family members who identified her body were traumatised.

“The things they saw will haunt them into their graves. She was deformed. Gabi was tortured for 24 hours. They could barely recognise her.”

Baril’s husband, Hezikiel Aziz, said releasing the accused on bail would give the impression South Africa was a country “where you can go and get someone killed without justice”.

“Look what happened to the woman from the UK,” he said, referring to Anni Hindocha.

Her husband, Shrien Dewani, was cleared in the Western Cape High Court of hiring hitmen to murder 28-year-old Anni in Gugulethu during their honeymoon in November 2010.

Judge Jeanette Traverso said the State's evidence had "fallen far below" the level needed to secure a conviction.

Her cousin was a gentle, innocent, beautiful woman who suffered a horrific end, Baril said. “In the US, he wouldn’t even be considered for bail.”

To plead not guilty

Baril said she was shocked at how “good” Dougherty looked.

“I was expecting to see a skinny, pale, aged version of him. But he looks like he is at a resort,” she fumed.

Aziz said he last saw the accused at a wedding a few years ago. “He didn’t look as good as he looks now. How does that happen?”

Dougherty intended to plead not guilty and has asked the court to consider diminished responsibility by way of drug intoxication, as per a psychiatric report. This was despite his having been able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.

This emerged during a formal bail application on Thursday, in which Booth read out an affidavit on Dougherty's behalf.

Dougherty said he first got to know Alban more than 15 years ago while studying in the United States. They formed a very close relationship.

After her divorce, they met up again and lived together for a while in Guatemala City. He said they were in a close relationship until her death.

Alban wronged

He said in his affidavit that he had no intention of leaving the country and had co-operated with authorities to date.

He would receive the necessary psychiatric support and was willing to be electronically monitored. A security company was on board to help him abide by bail conditions.

Baril, however, maintained that should he be released, “he will be gone”.

Dougherty’s family own cement company, Cementos Progreso. He said his family was "very prominent and important". It contributed extensively to the economy and philanthropic efforts.

It affected him that he could not be by his father's side when he died last month.

Baril insisted the only person who was wronged was Alban.

“Who is the victim here? What happened to Gabi was horrible and terrifying. He must stay behind bars. Money mustn’t beat the system.”

The bail application resumes in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Read more on:    gabriela kabrins alban  |  diego dougherty  |  cape town  |  crime

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