Hit-and-run suspect 'not a flight risk'

2013-05-25 07:34

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Cape Town - An alleged hit-and-run driver was released on R3 000 bail when he appeared in the Kuils River District Court late on Friday.

Geoffrey Merrick, aged 51, a diesel mechanic from Brackenfell, Cape Town, faces charges of culpable homicide (manslaughter) and failure to stop after an accident.

He surrendered to the police 10 days after this happened.

It is alleged that his white VW Polo Classic collided with cyclist Koos Roux, a medical practitioner, on 12 May.

Roux was cycling with his son, Kobus, aged 19, in the early morning.

The police tracked down Merrick by means of debris from his damaged car found in the road.

Allegations 'insufficient'


Merrick appeared before Magistrate Bea Vermeulen, who said the charges were serious, but that her function was merely to decide whether Merrick was a flight risk, as alleged by prosecutor Andile Ngiba.

The court's function was not to decide Merrick's guilt or innocence, she said.

She said the State's contention that Merrick was a flight risk was based on the prosecutor's suspicion that he would abscond.

She said the allegation that Merrick had illegally fled the accident scene, instead of stopping, was insufficient to support the suspicion that he would abscond, especially as he had surrendered himself to the police voluntarily.

He had had plenty of time to disappear, had that been his intention.

Evidence was that Merrick had not been at his place of work or his residence when police went in search of him.

Intimidation

Merrick told the court that he became aware on Monday this week that the police were looking for him.

Instead of reporting immediately to the police, he had first consulted his lawyer.

He alleged that the police had tried twice, after his surrender, to intimidate him into making a statement, despite his right to not do so.

The police had threatened to oppose his release on bail, if he refused to make a statement, he alleged.

He said he was divorced, but engaged to re-marry, and that his wife-to-be was heavily pregnant.

Their baby was due "any day", he told the court.

The magistrate agreed with his lawyer his release on bail was in the interests of justice as he had no previous convictions, and no pending criminal cases or outstanding warrants for his arrest.

She warned him to return to court on 29 January next year, and that he would be taken back into custody if he failed to do so.

Read more on:    cape town  |  accidents

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