Bridge crash lawyer a changed man, says wife

2014-02-28 00:00

A CHURCH-GOER and a man filled with remorse. That was the picture Patty Shannon-Naicker painted at yesterday’s pre-sentencing hearing of her husband, disbarred lawyer Koobashan Naicker, convicted of killing three people in a drug-and-alcohol fuelled car crash.

Her testimony followed an earlier dramatic development at the Durban Regional Court when Naicker’s advocate Christo van Schalkwyk stood down, saying he could no longer represent his client due to “irreconcilable differences”.

He was replaced by Naicker’s instructing attorney, Mervyn Maistry.

Naicker pleaded guilty in October last year to eight charges including three of culpable homicide and one of reckless driving relating to the deaths of Gillian Bell, her eight-year-old son Connor, and dance teacher Carmen Hunter on Durban’s Athlone Bridge in March 2011.

Giving evidence in mitigation of sentence, Shannon-Naicker said she first met Naicker in 1996 but that their relationship began in July 2011 and they married 11 months ago. She owns and runs a crèche in Pinetown, as well as a take-away outlet, which is run by her husband.

Shannon-Naicker has two children from a previous marriage, a boy and girl, aged 12 and five. She said Naicker was a “wonderful father” to her two children and that there was a “special bond” between herself and her husband.

Questioned about Naicker’s alcohol and drug abuse, she said she was not aware of the problem when their relationship began and that she wouldn’t have begun a relationship with him if that was the case.

However, under cross-examination, and after it was pointed out that Naicker had not sought assistance for his drinking problem until June 2012, she conceded she was “aware he was drinking” but that he did not drink in her presence.

Naicker said her husband currently attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and also helps other people with alcohol problems.

The couple attend Christ’s Kingdom Ministries church in Asherville and Shannon-Naicker described her husband as “very spiritual”.

She said Naicker was “obviously remorseful” about the accident and often gets up in the middle of the night to pray about what happened.

Proceedings were adjourned before lunch as Maistry said he was unable to argue in mitigation of sentence as he needed time to prepare after replacing Van Schalkwyk at such short notice.

Magistrate Blessing Msani adjourned the hearing until 9 am today.

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