Wife "kidnaps her husband and locks him up in "private prison" after he refused to fly her family out to visit over Christmas'

Friday, January 26, 2024
 – A British rancher in Brazil has accused his wife of kidnapping him before sending him to an illegal rehab after he refused to pay for her family to fly out to visit them over Christmas.

Robert Witchell, 59, was locked up for a month before he could escape the clinic in Caldas Novas, Goias State.

He told detectives he had been window shopping shortly before Christmas when he was snatched off the street by four men, who bundled him into the back of a car.

He was then driven 90 minutes to the Novo Dia, or New Day, a drugs rehab clinic, and locked up until police rescued him on 22nd January.

Witchell said he was told his wife had signed the order for his detention in the 'private prison' because of his drinking.

In reality, he told police, they had fallen out when he refused to pay to have her entire family flown in to spend Christmas with them.

He said: 'I was outside a shop close to my ranch. I was talking to a friend of mine when four people approached me and three of them grabbed me by my arms and by the legs.

'They said: "You're coming to the clinic. You have problems with your drinking, blah blah blah, you have to come with us."'

Witchell said he told them: 'I'm not going anywhere with you. It's a kidnap.'

He said they replied: 'We have had a call. We are authorised to take you by force.'

Witchell was then allegedly physically lifted and bundled into the back of a car and driven for 90 minutes to the clinic.

He adds in the interview released on 24th January: 'They put me there and locked me in a room.'

Witchell says: 'My wife had signed the authorisation to put me in there, I think, over an argument we had at Christmas.

'She wanted her family to come and I said I couldn't afford to pay for it. Then all of a sudden I've got these people kidnapping me.'

Witchell was only rescued when he managed to email a friend from a computer he was allowed access to, who called the police.

Police have since shut down the Novo Dia clinic, and its unnamed manager has been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.

A Military Police of Goias statement read: 'The Military Police closed this Tuesday (23rd January) a recovery clinic for drug users at Residencial Eldorado PARK II, in Caldas Novas, after a request for help from an inmate of English nationality who was being held in this private prison.'

They added: 'The Englishman was rescued from the clinic after reporting the irregularities via e-mail, claiming that around 30 days ago he had been kidnapped by four men, supposedly employees of the clinic, and that since then he had been kept in prison.'

'In an interview with the victim, he reported that around 15th December, his wife asked him for a large amount of money,' the statement went on.

'Faced with his refusal, his partner, without judicial authorisation, hired a clinic in Caldas Novas, which kidnapped him, coerced him, and kept him in a private prison.'

There is no information on Witchell's current condition, and his wife has not been named.

The investigation continues.

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