Bradley “Kleinkop” Parkins has been acquitted of the murder of Athlone police reservist Ernistine Veroni.
A smiling Parkins left the dock of the Wynberg Regional Court on Thursday after magistrate Bruce Langa found him not guilty of Veroni’s murder, the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Romeo Petersen, and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Langa found the State failed to prove its case against Parkins, who was represented by lawyer Richard Roode. Langa said he had found Petersen, who was with Veroni on the night she died in April 2008, to be an unreliable witness.
There were many contradictions between Petersen’s oral testimony in court and the statements he made to police about the shooting in Kudu Street, Athlone.
The ballistics report linked spent cartridges found at the scene to a gun found at Parkins’s house in Milnerton.
Two police officers who were part of the contingent who arrested Parkins testified that they had seen him place a black bag in a box, before trying to escape through a window.
Parkins was caught and police found the black bag, which contained a gun.
A bullet ejected from the same gun was found in the vehicle in which Veroni was shot and killed.
Spent cartridges from other guns were also found at the scene, but the two bullets removed from Veroni’s body did not form part of the evidence before the court.
Langa found that the police, in searching Parkins’s house without a warrant a month after the shooting, acted unconstitutionally.
This made their actions unlawful and “fatally weakened the State’s case” because they violated Parkins’s right to a fair trial, he said.
“This is important. Law enforcement officials must (obtain search warrants) because it is a constitutional imperative.”
Langa said the evidence “doesn’t prove (Parkins) was involved in the fatal shooting of Ernistine Veroni, and the same goes for the attempted murder charge”.
“And in the absence of evidence, there is no way a finding can be made, beyond reasonable doubt, that (Parkins) committed the offence and was in possession of the firearm,” the magistrate said.
Two other men, Ashley Oliver and Oscar Williams, were initially charged with the same offences.
Williams has since died, and Oliver was acquitted of all counts last week as there was no evidence linking him to the crimes.
Parkins is serving an 18-month sentence for escaping on February 16, 2009, from the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.
He had been due to appear in the court on an unrelated charge of illegal possession of a firearm. He was rearrested two days later.
Parkins has two other cases pending, one involving a charge of murder and the other attempted murder.
The cases are to be heard in the Wynberg and Mitchells Plain regional courts.