Durban - Disbarred lawyer Koobashan Naicker, convicted of killing three people in a car crash on Durban’s Athlone Bridge almost three years ago, left it to his wife, Patty, to plead for mercy on his behalf before sentencing on Friday.
“He is very remorseful,” she told Durban Regional Court magistrate Blessing Msani on Thursday. “He has sleepless nights and I hear him praying for forgiveness.’”
After two and a half years, Naicker, now 43, finally pleaded guilty last October to eight charges including three of culpable homicide and one of reckless driving relating to the deaths of mom Gillian Bell, 32, and her son Connor, 8, and dance teacher Carmen Hunter, 19, in March 2011.
He admitted that he had been drinking and snorting cocaine at the time.
His plea was in writing and he did not testify. on Thursday, he again did not take the stand.
And reports from a criminologist and doctors about his alleged diagnosis of lupus, which were promised when he asked for an adjournment of sentencing last month, did not materialise.
Instead, after his advocate withdrew, citing a conflict of interest, his attorney, Mervin Maistry, said he was calling just one witness and he would consent to the handing in of victim impact statements, graphic photographs from the accident scene and a social worker’s report, which recommends a jail sentence.
Patty Naicker, who owns a Pinetown crèche, said she had been married to Naicker for less than year, but had met him just after the accident in 2011.
She said he had a close bond with her son although he did not see his own two children from a previous marriage.
She said he assisted with the running of her tuck-shop, helped out at the crèche and contributed financially to the household.
Initially claiming that he had not had a drink since she met him, she backtracked under cross-examination by State advocate Mahen Naidu, saying “he was not drinking in my presence” and conceding that he was, in fact, drinking up until he went to rehabilitation a year later.
She said in her affidavit that Naicker had had a “spiritual awakening” and attended AA meetings and church regularly.
“We have discussed the accident; it is painful for him to talk about it. He breaks down.
“He would have spoken to the victims’ families, but he was told he is not allowed to,” she said.
Under cross-examination, she conceded that financially she would “make do” if Naicker were sent to jail.
Social worker Makhosazana Mantantana, in her report, said that was the only place for him so he could “reflect” on what he had done.
“This is to deter him from further criminal activities and because of the seriousness of the offences,” she said.
“He may have committed them unintentionally, but he was aware of the dangers of driving having consumed alcohol and taken drugs.”
She said even though he suffered from an eye condition this could be managed in Westville Prison.
She said Naicker had offered to pay the compensation to the families, “but they are not willing”.
Mantantana said she had interviewed Jason Bell, the husband of Gillian and father of Connor, who said Naicker, instead of showing remorse, had delayed the court process and wasted the court’s time.
“He said he would like him to get the death sentence,” she said, a sentiment also expressed by Keith Griffiths, Gillian’s father.
Carmen Hunter’s parents, Wendy and Mike Hunter, said they “find it extremely difficult to forgive him” and believed he should be sentenced to not less than 10 years in jail, without an option of parole.
The State and the defence will present closing arguments this morning. The defence is expected to argue for correctional supervision or a partly suspended sentence.
The magistrate is expected to pass sentence later in the day.