Shrien, the grammar-school prince

2010-12-14 13:53

Prabhu Krupa Villa – the family home of Shrien Dewani – is safely tucked away behind electric gates and high trees in the most affluent part of the upmarket suburb of Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol.

From the double carriageway passing the house, only a winding driveway can be seen, but an aerial image picture on Google Earth reveals what appears to be a luxurious complex in expansive gardens.

Dewani, who is suspected of arranging a hit on his wife, Anni, while on honeymoon in South Africa, returned to the sprawling estate on Friday night after he was released from Wandsworth Prison in London.

He will have to stay there under curfew, wear an electronic tag and report to a nearby police station daily as part of his bail conditions.

In the nearby high street, residents are stunned that their rather sleepy suburb, which main claim to fame has been the fact that it has the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Bristol, has become the centre of so much attention.

Becky Feather, who runs the website Westbury On Trym People, has seen a massive surge in hits and has had to field calls from international journalists.

She says the local residents are as perplexed by the case as the rest of the world.

While speculation here is rife, residents are hesitant to voice an opinion.

Many know the family from when they had a pharmacy in nearby Shirehampton (the family business is still located there) and Shrien’s father, Prakash, is considered a pillar of the community.

Family friends flatly refuse to say anything and appear to be extremely protective of the Dewanis.

Only thirty years old, Dewani has been described as a millionaire. His counsel, Clare Montgomery QC, said in court that he has led “an exemplary life”.

Shrien and his brother, Preyen, appear to have excelled from an early age. Both attended the prestigious 500-year-old Bristol Grammar School in the city centre, where prospective candidates have to do well in entrance examinations to be accepted and fees are currently £10 590 (about R120 000) per year.

According to a profile on the International Network for Asian Businesses, Shrien was accepted by Arthur Andersen at the age of 18 and qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte, while Preyen read law at Oxford before joining Andersen Consulting.

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