‘I’m not just a killer,’ says accused

2010-07-21 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG man, Emmanuel Sydney Donnelly (35), who allegedly shot and killed his wife Tania (30) in April, pleaded with magistrate Divesh Mootheram yesterday to view him “as a father and not only as a murderer” when he considers whether or not to grant him bail.

Donnelly started testifying yesterday at the start of his bail hearing, but did not conclude his evidence due to the fact that the prosecutor fell ill.

His evidence ended on an emotional note as he struggled to hold back his tears when asked by his lawyer, Nersan Naicker, to testify about three letters he had written to his late wife, his daughter and his son shortly before the incident.

Naicker said the letters are in the hands of the police.

Donnelly gulped back tears and repeatedly rubbed his chest as he prepared to reveal the contents of the letters and seemed unable to find the words to do so.

The court adjourned to give him time to compose himself.

The case was subsequently postponed to July 28.

Earlier in his evidence, Donnelly told Mootheram that he intends to plead guilty to the charge that he murdered his wife.

However, he said, he is concerned about his children (aged four and 16 years) and needs time before he goes to prison to ensure that they are taken care of financially while he is in custody.

“I’m aware of the seriousness of my case … but my children still want to be with me.

“There was a problem between me and the children’s mother, but my relationship with my children is still the same. Nothing has changed … Now they want to take my children away from me,” he said.

Donnelly said he wants his children to stay with his family, even though he accepts they are also “part and parcel” of his late wife’s family, and he does not wish to stop them seeing the children.

“I would like the court to consider that I’m also a father and that I have never shirked that responsibility,” he said.

“I don’t want the court to see me only as a murderer.”

The court was told that Tania Donnelly’s sister has brought an application in court for custody of her sister’s youngest child.

Donnelly said that since the shooting, his late wife’s family have not allowed his children to see him.

He told the court he owns a house in Eastwood and does not have a passport. He said he is aware that he faces a long term of imprisonment, but said he will not abscond if given bail. He added tht he can afford R5 000 bail.

Donnelly revealed yesterday that he was convicted 17 years ago of committing statutory rape, for which he received a five-year suspended sentence.

This evidence prompted Mootheram to ask Donnelly why he had failed to disclose his previous conviction, despite being informed by the court that it was an offence not to do so no matter how old the conviction was.

He said he forgot about it at the time.

Donnelly faces a total of six charges — murder, theft of a firearm from Johnson Ndabezitha, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, pointing a firearm (at security guard, Skhumbuzo Fakude) and contravening a protection order.

The state alleges the murder of Tania Donnelly was premeditated.

She was shot dead at the electricity department in Pietermaritzburg, where she worked.

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