Murder-accused stepmom's bail revoked after skipping trial

2015-10-27 18:38


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Pretoria - A stepmother accused of bashing her husband's 2-year-old daughter to death has had her bail revoked after she failed to turn up at court.

Linda Hope, 24, of Springs in Ekurhuleni, was taken to court on Tuesday wearing a purple T-shirt and shorts.

The High Court in Pretoria had issued a warrant for her arrest on Monday when she failed to turn up for her trial.

She was arrested on Monday afternoon.

Hope faces charges of murder and child abuse following the death of her young stepdaughter, Christabelle Labuschagne, at a Springs hospital six days after she was admitted with serious head injuries in March last year.

Hope allegedly told doctors the child had fallen off a couch and that a dog had caused the scratches on her face.

The child was visiting her father and stepmother for a few days when she was injured.

The State alleges Hope caused the severe brain injuries which ended in Christabelle's death.

On Tuesday Hope told Judge Mahomed Ismail she was very sorry for not attending her trial.

Although she was aware of the conditions under which her bail was extended, she could not find transport.

She claimed she panicked when friends who were supposed to take her to court did not pitch up. She went to Leratong to find transport, but failed despite "trying and trying".

"I'm terribly sorry that I was not here yesterday, but I did not know what to do," she said.

After questions from the Ismail, Hope admitted that she had deliberately changed sim cards so that no one could reach her.

She agreed with the judge that she had deliberately planned not to be at court and that she was looking for another place to stay in Leratong, apparently because she was afraid of her husband.

She burst into tears when the judge asked her if she thought it was a good thing that people ignored court orders and did what they wanted to.

Ismail not only withdrew Hope's bail, but gave her a suspended fine of R300.

He said it would cause anarchy and court orders would be toothless if they were ignored.

"Her excuse for not coming to court is such a lame and nonsensical explanation," Ismail said.

"She said she didn't have transport. I can understand that our public transport system is not the best in the world, but we don't live in the outback of Australia or the Sahara Desert that people can't communicate.

"She has a cellphone and replaced the sim card. That's indicative that she didn't want anyone to get in touch with her. It is clear that she didn't want to attend her trial," Ismail said.

He said Hope was not in court of her own doing, but instead because of the investigating officer's tenacity to find her.

The trial was postponed to Thursday for negotiations between the State and defence.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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