Baby mur­der ac­cused in new bail bid

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A BARKLY West man, who has been charged with the mur­der of a seven-month-old baby, will know by next week whether he is el­i­gi­ble to be re­leased on bail.

The ac­cused, Em­manuel Wel­come (right), was pre­vi­ously de­nied bail but brought an­other ap­pli­ca­tion for bail based on new facts in the Wind­sor­ton Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

Wel­come was ar­rested, along with the mother of the baby, on October 1, af­ter the baby’s body was found in­side a shanty which the two ac­cused shared with an­other friend in Matal­eng.

A state­ment by Wel­come’s girl­friend, which was read to the court last year, stated that she saw the two ac­cused as­sault­ing the baby af­ter re­turn­ing from an­other nearby shanty.

The mat­ter was pre­vi­ously post­poned in or­der for the mother of the baby, who is the first ac­cused in the mat­ter, to un­dergo psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion.

Wel­come’s lawyer, Me­gan Klein­smith, told the court that a de­lay in ob­tain­ing a bed for the first ac­cused had re­sulted in Wel­come be­ing de­tained for a long pe­riod.

“The mat­ter was de­layed for a long pe­riod due to ac­cused one not be­ing al­lo­cated a bed for psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion. On De­cem­ber 9, 2016 the court heard that there was a bed avail­able for ac­cused one. How­ever, dur­ing the next court ap­pear­ance, which was on May 19, 2017, the court heard that ac­cused one was num­ber seven on the list for a bed. On June 23, 2017 the court was in­formed that ac­cused one was num­ber 12 on the list. This means that the ac­cused was mov­ing down­wards on the list, in­stead of up. It is uncertain, there­fore, how this will af­fect Wel­come, as he has been kept in cus­tody for a long time, which is un­fair on him,” Klein­smith said.

“This is an un­rea­son­able de­lay. The mat­ter has been on the roll for al­most a year and the ac­cused (Wel­come) has been in cus­tody since October 2016. He can­not be blamed for the de­lay in the al­lo­ca­tion of a bed. We re­quest that the ac­cused be re­leased on bail as jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied,” she said.

The State, rep­re­sented by ad­vo­cate Sha­reen Links, said that it was not in the in­ter­est of jus­tice for Wel­come to be re­leased.

“The State pre­vi­ously in­formed the court that the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in­di­cated that there was a back­log at the psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, which was why they could not send ac­cused one to be eval­u­ated and also why the process stopped for new pa­tients. The de­lay in the al­lo­ca­tion of beds is not in the hands of the State,” said Links.

He said they had also re­ceived new in­for­ma­tion that Wel­come had threat­ened the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Is­rael Taolo. Ac­cord­ing to Taolo he re­ceived a phone call from some­one who was in cus­tody with Wel­come, warn­ing him about threats al­legedly made against him by Wel­come.

“Ac­cord­ing to the de­tainee, the ac­cused told him that he would set a trap for me or find a way to hurt me,” said Taolo.

He said that the fact that Wel­come knew the wit­nesses could also af­fect the out­come of the case.

“There is a like­li­hood that the ac­cused may in­ter­fere with the wit­nesses as two of the wit­nesses are his sis­ters and one other wit­ness is his girl­friend. There is a like­li­hood that he will in­flu­ence the wit­nesses. The eye­wit­ness in the case also in­di­cated that he had been threat­ened by both ac­cused.

“The com­mu­nity also has an in­ter­est in the case and his re­lease on bail could in­voke anger among com­mu­nity mem­bers.”

Klein­smith, how­ever, ar­gued that the threats to Taolo was merely hearsay. She added that although the ac­cused knew the iden­ti­ties of the wit­nesses, strict bail con­di­tions could be im­posed to en­sure that he did not in­ter­fere with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The mat­ter was post­poned.

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