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Durban - The lawyer acting for an accountant on trial in the Durban High Court for the murder his girlfriend, called for the recusal of the presiding officer.
The application on Tuesday by Gideon Scheltema SC, followed a decision by the State to abandon the evidence of an independent psychologist, submitted to the court at the request of Judge Kate Pillay.
Nick Longano is on trial for the murder his girlfriend, Vinoba Naidoo, at their Glenwood flat in August 2010.
The State alleges that Naidoo, 35, was suffocated when Longano stood on her neck in the flat they had put on the market after their relationship had ended.
Longano’s defence is that due to his mental state at the time, he was incapable of controlling his actions or appreciating their wrongfulness.
When the matter was adjourned in April, the State had placed it on record that it would call an independent psychologist.
Prosecutor Nadira Moosa had submitted a report by the psychologist to the court, on the basis that he would testify.
On Tuesday, Moosa’s decision to abandon the evidence sparked Scheltema’s application, based on the alleged prejudicial role the report would play against his client.
Judge Pillay excused her assessors, who had not seen the report, before yesterday’s arguments.
“The manner in which knowledge comes to the presiding officer is not important – the knowledge is enough,” Scheltema argued.
He said the report would play a role in the adjudication process, because it touched on broad probabilities that set the reader off in a certain direction.
Scheltema described the report as being “loaded”, saying it had “disturbing features”. He asked the court to accept the possibility that the contents would prejudice Longano.
“This type of information should not be placed before court, unless you can back it up,” he said. “You never know how some of this information will be assimilated.”
The State opposed the application, calling it “frivolous”.
“The suggestion that providing the court with the report was an irregularity is an attempt to impinge proceedings,” Moosa said.
She said it was unfortunate that the decision not to call the witness had placed the court in its current predicament, since it is the prosecution’s prerogative to call a witness or not.
Moosa said the State had opted to rely on the evidence of another expert who had psychological and pharmacological qualifications, whereas the author of the report did not possess a qualification in pharmacology.
“To a large extent the report expresses general principles.
“It cannot be said that anything in this report can be said to have influenced the court in any way,” Moosa said.
The matter is expected to continue on Wednesday. - Daily News