Independent Online

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

From life of luxury to cell in SA

Gabriela Kabrins Alban.

Gabriela Kabrins Alban.

Published Aug 9, 2015


Cape Town - He’s part of a powerful family of billionaires which owns the biggest cement factory in his home country, Guatemala. His girlfriend was a businesswoman whose company represented some of the largest brands in the US.

Less than a fortnight ago they were checked into an exclusive boutique hotel where rooms cost more than $10 000 (R120 000) a night. Now he is in South Africa’s notorious Pollsmoor Prison, and she is dead.

Story continues below Advertisement

Diego Carlos Estuardo Dougherty Novella is the 43-year-old Guatemalan man accused of murdering his girlfriend, American Gabriela Kabrins Alban, 39, at the Camps Bay Retreat Boutique Hotel on July 29.

After three court appearances since his arrest, Novella is still in custody, but is expected to apply for his release on bail on August 21. He has not yet pleaded.

He and Alban were romantically involved and shared a room at the hotel, his lawyer, William Booth, confirmed.

He was arrested the same day that Alban’s semi-naked body was found. She had been strangled to death.

Alban, a public relations executive, was born and raised in Los Angeles. She was a graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and founded a marketing and advertising firm, Conexión.

The company – whose clients included Ford Motor Company, TJ Maxx, Bank of America and Payless Shoesource – closed in 2012 because the owners “decided to pursue other opportunities and adventures, a statement said at the time. Alban had been married to paediatrician Blake Alban. The marriage ended in divorce.

Friends of Alban told the Daily Mail newspaper in Britain that she was dedicated to work and “not a party animal at all”. Rumours had been flying that drugs and an orgy were behind Alban’s killing, but this remains unconfirmed.

The State is alleging that the killing was premeditated.

During this week’s court proceedings – which were delayed to wait for a Spanish interpreter – it emerged that Novella holds passports from Guatemala and from Italy.

His grandfather, Carlos F Novella, founded the family business, which has for decades controlled the cement market in Guatemala and held great political influence.

The company reportedly has an annual revenue of about $500 million. The family also does a lot of philanthropic work.

Alban’s family – including her mother Doris Weitz and stepfather, retired judge Alexander Williams – were joined by US Consulate staff and detectives from Camps Bay at the first hearing this week.

Booth, speaking outside court on Friday, said Novella was “extremely distraught” and had collapsed before his last court appearance.

He had been seen by medical staff at Pollsmoor Prison, who then sent him to the general awaiting-trial section because they could not find a medical reason to keep him in the hospital section.

But Booth said he had not been examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Magistrate Grant Engel on Friday ordered that Novella be held in the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison until his next court appearance.

Booth said the Guatemalan ambassador to the UK, Acisclo Valladares Molina, and the Italian consulate had offered to assist Novella. His family were making arrangements to travel to South Africa.

Molina told Weekend Argus he was happy with the court process, but raised concerns about the conditions at the prison.

Senior State advocate Bonnie-Currie Gamwo is prosecuting the case.

Weekend Argus

Related Topics:

Crime and Courts