Stolen house: pair’s last warning

2011-11-09 00:00

REGIONAL Court magistrate Chris van Vuuren lost patience with convicted fraudsters Akashnee Singh (39) and Dinesh Lutchman (37) yesterday and handed them an ultimatum to ensure that sentencing can be finalised in their trial this week.

He ordered that Lutchman — who is still on bail — as well as any defence witnesses the accused wish to call, must consult with a legal aid attorney today or he will face possible imprisonment for contempt of court.

Van Vuuren said the consultation must take place so that if Lutchman’s private lawyer cannot proceed with the matter for any reason tomorrow, the case can still be finalised.

Singh’s bail was withdrawn recently when she failed to appear in court claiming illness, yet CCTV footage proved she had been gambling at the casino the previous night. She is still in custody.

The couple stand convicted of having fraudulently presented an attorney with a fake deed of sale in an attempt to deprive homeowner Rowena Padayachee of the Burger Street home she had inherited from her mother.

Padayachee was despairing yesterday about the constant delays in finalising the trial.

She told The Witness that her bid to have the couple evicted from the house, in which they have been living for the past seven years, was also delayed in the high court two weeks ago due to the fact that Lutchman and Singh indicated that they required legal aid. The matter is now scheduled to be heard at the end of this month.

Regional Court prosecutor Martin Mtambo submitted yesterday the two accused are abusing their right to legal representation in the criminal trial having regard to multiple delays throughout the case caused by the fact that they changed attorneys and/or advocates or found themselves unrepresented.

The case dates back to 2004 and the couple were convicted three months ago on August 8.

Van Vuuren told the couple yesterday he is “tired” of “being misled and of getting different stories from different people” every time they appear in court for the sentencing process to begin.


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