Man now to plead insanity

2010-08-05 00:00

POLICE are investigating an allegation that Emmanuel Donnelly (35), who is charged with the murder of his wife, attempted to escape from prison, it emerged in the magistrate’s court yesterday.

Donnelly, whose bail application was due to continue yesterday before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Divesh Mootheram, has also done an about-turn and decided that he will no longer plead guilty to the murder charge as he indicated during his earlier testimony, the court was told.

Instead, his lawyer, Nersan Naicker, said Donnelly will be pleading not guilty to the charge on the basis that he was temporarily insane when he allegedly murdered his wife.

Tania Donnelly (30) was shot dead in the kitchen area at the electricity department where she worked.

The revelation that Donnelly will mount a defence of temporary insanity prompted prosecutor Rene Padayachee to apply to the court to order that Donnelly should undergo mental observation.

However, Mootheram declined to do so.

He said the law provides for an accused to be referred by a court for mental observation if there is evidence he suffers from a pre-existing mental condition, or in cases where a court, through its own observations, forms the opinion that he might have mental problems.

If Donnelly raises a defence of temporary insanity at his trial, this would be dealt with by the trial court. In that event the state would also be entitled to call its own experts to rebutt the defence version, said Mootheram.

With regard to Donnelly’s alleged bid to escape from jail, Naicker said Donnelly’s instructions to him were that it was not Donnelly, but another prisoner, who tried to escape.

Mootheram was told that the Correctional Services Department is conducting an inquiry into the allegation.

He adjourned the bail hearing until next week for evidence to be led in that regard.

• When Donnelly gave evidence on a previous occasion in support of his bail application he urged the court to view him “as a father and not only as a murderer”.

He told Mootheram that he intended to plead guilty to the murder of his wife, but that he was worried about the fate of his children and needed to ensure that they were taken care of while he is in custody.


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