The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment on an appeal by Australian accountant Shumsheer Singh Ghumman against a nine-year prison sentence. File picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

 Cape Town - Everything in the entire case involving Australian accountant Shumsheer Singh Ghumman pointed to his plan to kill Clifton businessman Philip Rhind, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

Senior counsel Billy Downer, who secured Ghumman's convictions in the Cape Town Regional Court last year on charges of fraud, incitement to commit murder, and attempted murder, opposed Ghumman's appeal against the convictions and his nine-year sentence.

The appeal was argued before Judges Anton Veldhuizen and Nape Dolamo, who reserved judgment.

Ghumman had pleaded guilty in the Regional Court to a charge of malicious damage to the Rhind luxury home in Clifton, but not guilty to the other charges.

The fraud charge arose from Ghumman's pretence to two senior Cape Town journalists to have been in Cape Town to do a freelance photo-story about violence in the townships, when in fact he was in Cape Town to execute plans to kill Rhind.

This duped one of the journalists into setting up interviews for Ghumman with known township criminals.

In the course of an interview with one of the township residents, Ghumman persuaded him to assist with the petrol bombing of the home.

The resident at first agreed, but then got “cold feet” and withdrew.

Downer told the court: “As far as the incitement charge is concerned, everything revolves around what was said between Ghumman and the township resident in their discussion about the Rhind home.”

Senior counsel for the defence, Francois van Zyl, said the fact that the first of two petrol bombs exploded on a balcony of the Rhind home Ä far from where they were sleeping Ä indicated that Ghumman had no intent to kill but merely to damage the home.

Downer countered: “There was nevertheless direct intention to kill from the word go.”

Van Zyl said the Regional Court was mistaken in rejecting Ghumman's stated reason for his visit to Cape Town; namely, to do a photo-story about township violence.

Had the Regional Court accepted Ghumman's stated reason as being “reasonably possibly” true, as the court should have, the result would have been entirely different, Van Zyl said.

Ghumman, formerly an accountant with a Japanese financial company in London, had had a platonic relationship with Rhind's daughter, Hannah, in London.

However, Ghumman had felt deeply aggrieved when Rhind, at his daughter's request, had interfered in the relationship to end it.

Ghumman had secretly followed the daughter when she went home to her parents and planned to kill the father by burning down the house as revenge for his interference, the Regional Court ruled. - Sapa