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Durban - A Hindu priest from Chatsworth who was jailed for raping a child devotee has failed in his bid to present further evidence.
Cooper Reddy, 60, of Havenside, was sentenced in May to 15 years in prison after being convicted on two counts of rape, a count of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.
The crimes were committed since 2006, when the complainant was nine years old, and continued until 2010.
The girl had been taken to Reddy to be blessed.
Reddy was granted leave to appeal at the time of sentencing, and yesterday his lawyer, advocate Joe Wolmarans, asked the Durban Magistrate’s Court to allow the case to be reopened to introduce further evidence before the matter was heard by the appeal court.
The basis for the application was that Reddy had not received proper representation in the trial, he said. Wolmarans argued that the trial lawyer had lacked adequate experience and qualifications.
He said that Reddy had been afforded only 20 minutes before the trial to consult with his lawyer whom he said “turned up” on the day the matter was heard.
Wolmarans said evidence regarding the layout of the temple where the crimes were committed were also not led.
“Reddy said when he was taken out of the temple in 2009 he went to another temple. The complainant said she was abused (at the first temple) until 2010. This was never picked up in the trial,” he said. “The court has to look at both these temples.”
If the application were to be granted, the defence wanted the court to conduct an in loco inspection, hear the evidence of a caretaker of the temple and allow Reddy to lead evidence not presented in the trial.
Prosecutor Thandi Khuzwayo opposed the application, saying the re-opening of the defence case to allow for the new evidence did not serve the purpose of the section of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Act being relied upon.
Khuzwayo said the intention of the section was not to supplement evidence not put forward by the defence. She said it was never part of the defence case that there was more than one temple.
She said Reddy had had ample opportunity to consult with his lawyer.
Ruling against the application, magistrate Delia Turner said the defence was trying to have a “second bite at the cherry”.
She said the section was quite strict on what evidence could be led - the evidence must be bold, realistic and strong enough to change the case.