Closing arguments at Donile murder trial
Accused’s evidence tested by defence, state
Murder accused Tonny Donile sat in the Port Alfred Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and Friday last week while prosecutor Johan Carstens and defence advocate Mark Botha made their closing arguments, each summing up the evidence to convict or acquit him of two deaths.
Donile was arrested in the early hours of the morning on August 10 2016 after he left the scene of the second victim, local businessman Noel Maddocks, and has been in police custody since then. He has been accused of two murders, the first from 2010 when Donile killed a man – allegedly in self-defence – who had attempted to steal from a tavern in Nemato that Donile owned, and the second that of Maddocks.
In his closing arguments Carstens conceded that neither murder was premediated. He also said that, in the Maddocks case, Donile’s former girlfriend, Pia Roser, had been an excellent witness who had painted a very vivid picture of the events in August 2016.
“She told the court that she and Donile were no longer in a relationship at the time of the Maddocks murder and that he had broken into the Alfred Road home where the couple had lived together. The circumstantial evidence has no grey areas.
“What Miss Roser reported was credible and consistent with the evidence,” said Carstens.
“The two stories [given by Donile and Roser] cannot be reconciled. It is clear from the number of stab wounds on the victim’s body that Donile stabbed him numerous times in the bedroom with the intent to murder him,” he said.
He went on to say Donile’s claim the 38 or more stab wounds were carried out by the doctor or medical staff was “absurd”.
It was then the turn of Donile’s current attorney, Botha, who summed up the case on behalf of his client on Friday. Since his arrest, Donile has had two attorneys withdrawing from his case, one claiming ethical reasons and the other financial considerations.
With regard to the first murder charge, Botha argued that his client had felt threatened by the man, who had broken into Donile’s tavern who would not stay down once Donile had subdued him, but that the victim had attempted to grab a weapon and Donile had had no choice but to defend himself from an imminent attack.
“The DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] did not prosecute. Now, years later, they throw it back although they did not believe he had committed a crime at the time. My client has to now recall details of an event eight years later, as though it happened yesterday,” said Botha.
“Be wary of the fairness of this case.”
At this point Botha revealed that Donile was a qualified kick-boxing instructor.
“Now things make a lot of sense in that my client was able to defend himself and used trip kicks to disable his adversaries,” explained Botha.
Continuing, Botha cited precedents that show a person might defend themselves against someone who had broken into their place of residence, even to the point of killing the perpetrator, if the victim felt their life was in danger.
In the Maddocks case, the first charge of breaking and entering was contested by Botha on the grounds that Roser had lied on the stand when she told the court that she had ever broken up with Donile.
“I do not understand why the prosecution believes Roser is an excellent witness,” he said. “She has been proven to have lied to the court.”
Turning to the gallery, Botha apologised to the Maddocks family. “It is not my intention to cause hurt,” he said.
Botha went on to say that the evidence given by a doctor regarding an alleged conversation he had had with Donile wherein Donile allegedly said that he had cut his hand in the police cells, had been discredited. Donile contends the cuts were caused by Maddocks.
Botha said this, and other matters pertaining to the case, were clear evidence of a conspiracy against Donile.
Botha said that the blood splatter expert called in to review the evidence had confirmed Donile’s version of events. He said that the explanation of the police and the doctor had been “blown out of the water” by the blood splatter expert.
“And Roser lied to the court, that is a fact. She was not an excellent witness at all. The question is, why would she lie?”
Botha held to Donile’s statement, that he had only caused two stab wounds to Maddocks.
“It was clearly self-defence. There were many other knives at the scene but they were not examined. The knife taken from the bedroom where Maddocks was stabbed was lost. It had DNA evidence of an unknown person on it. Who was this unknown person?” asked Botha.
“The conspiracy theory does not sound so far-fetched now. The unknown person caused the additional stab wounds after the police found the body and before the post mortem examination.”
The case was adjourned until December 18 when a verdict will be rendered.