Hans Kristian Rausing, the son of the billionaire founder of Swedish drinks-packaging giant Tetra Pak, pleaded guilty today to “preventing the lawful and decent burial” of his wife.
He was given a 10-month suspended sentence, ordering him to partake in a two-year residential drug treatment program. If he abides by the provisions of his drug rehab, he won’t be sent to jail.
Rausing’s sentence comes after the body of his wife, Eva Rausing, 48, was found by police on July 9 in an “advanced state of decomposition” — wrapped in trash bags with duct tape and hidden “several feet deep” beneath a pile of clothes in a “secure annex,” buzzing with flies, at the couple’s London home, the court heard.
Police happened upon the body during a search of the Rausings’ £70 million ($109 million) property was initially conducted after the 49-year-old Hans Kristian Rausing was stopped by police for driving in an erratic matter, after which drugs were found in his car. According to the Guardian, when Rausing, whose family fortune is estimated to be worth $10 billion, was asked where his wife was, he claimed that she had been in America for the previous two weeks. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing in her death.
In Isleworth Crown Court Tuesday he spoke only to answer his name and plead guilty to the preventing a proper burial charge. Later, the court heard a statement that Rausing made to police following his arrest. In the statement, Rausing said: “I do not have a very coherent recollection of the events leading up to and since Eva’s death. Safe to assure you that I have never wished her or done her any harm.” He added that he “did not supply her with drugs,” and that “do[es] not know what caused her death.”
“I did not feel able to confront the reality of her death,” the statement continued. “I do not feel, with the benefit of hindsight, that following her death I acted rationally. I tried to carry on as if her death had not happened and batted away any inquiries about her. I also took some measures to remove the smell. He said that that he believes he “suffered some sort of breakdown” following his wife’s death.
The court also heard a statement from Rausing’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mick McPhillips, revealing that the Tetra Pak heir told him: “I know it sounds selfish, but I just didn’t want her to leave.” Dr. McPhillips said that his patient had been suffering from “acute adjustment disorder.” Rausing’s representative Alex Cameron QC, the brother of British Prime Minister David Cameron, told the court: “In the words of Shakespeare, the defendant committed this offense while the balance of his mind was disturbed.”
Toxicology reports indicate that Eva Rausing most likely died on May 7. According to the Daily Telegraph, traces of cocaine were cocaine and amphetamines were found in her system. An inquest into her death was launched last month after the initial autopsy failed to identify a cause of death, though she is strongly suspected to have died of a drug overdose.
The Rausings have both faced long-running battles with drug addiction; in fact, they first met at a U.S. rehabilitation clinic. Mr. Cameron revealed that the couple had steered clear of drugs and alcohol for the first 11 years of their marriage, but slipped back into their cycle of addiction after New Year’s Eve 1999, when Eva Rausing chose to have a glass of champagne and her husband followed suit.
From 2007 onwards the couple fell even deeper into their addictions and gradually became more reclusive. Cameron explained that by time of Eva Rausing’s death, his client’s “only human contact was his wife.” Eva Rausing previously made headlines in 2008 when she was arrested for drug possession after attempting to pass security at the U.S. Embassy in London with a handbag containing crack cocaine.