Still questions around Leigh's murder

2012-02-01 12:46

Donovan Moodley's appeal

2012-02-01 13:47

Convicted murderer Donovan Moodley has had his application for a retrial rejected by the South Gauteng High Court. Watch how the event unfolded in court. WATCH

Johannesburg - Murdered student Leigh Matthews's parents say they are still haunted about her murder, and still have many questions about how she died.

An application by her convicted killer, Donovan Moodley, to have a retrial was denied in the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.

Moodley was found guilty in 2005 of the 2004 murder and kidnapping of Matthews, 21, and of extorting money from her father. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for kidnapping, and 10 years for extortion. He has been in prison ever since.

'Half truths'

Outside the court, Leigh's mother Sharon said she was haunted by questions about her daughter's kidnapping and murder. Leigh's body was found 12 days after she was abducted.

"We don't know the last 12 days where she was left."

Leigh's father Rob said there were "lots of half truths" surrounding the crime.

Sharon Matthews said she was thrilled the investigation was still open.

"We still talk about her every day, we think about her every day."

Former investigating officer Piet Byleveld dismissed Moodley's allegations that he manipulated evidence and forced a confession in order to frame him, but said he was certain Matthews was hijacked.

"But we will always have questions," he said.

'Far-fetched and fanciful'

Moodley's version of the kidnapping and murder was "far-fetched and fanciful", Judge Joop Labuschagne said earlier, as he denied Moodley's application for his conviction to be set aside, or a retrial.

"He also cannot explain why he burned the clothes he was wearing."

This implied he wanted to destroy the evidence.

"I am satisfied that the applicant's version cannot be true. He is a self-confessed liar.

"How can anyone believe that an innocent, intelligent man can plead guilty?"

He dismissed Moodley's claims about the drug dealers he said were involved in the crime. His story was "riddled with improbabilities".

The judge found Moodley had failed to explain the lateness of the application, nearly six years after the sentence had been passed. Moodley failed to prove there were prospects of success for an appeal.

Drug dealers

Moodley began his application for a retrial last Wednesday, choosing to represent himself. Moodley's argument on his claim that three Nigerian drug dealers, Frank, Allie and Jemba, orchestrated the kidnapping and murder.

Moodley claimed Byleveld manipulated evidence and forced a confession in order to frame him. He said this was because he was unable to lead police to the three drug dealers.

Labuschagne rebuked Moodley for attempting to discredit Byleveld and prosecutor Zaais van Zyl in his application.

"Why do we only hear about this alleged police brutality six years after the event?"

Labuschagne said Van Zyl was highly respected and did what was expected of him as an experienced prosecutor.

Moodley previously appealed against his conviction but withdrew this application. He also appealed against his sentence, but this was dismissed.

Read more on:    donovan moodley  |  piet byleveld  |  leigh matthews  |  johannesburg

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