Camps Bay killer Novella applies for leave to appeal

2018-10-25 18:14
Convicted murderer Guatemalan citizen Diego Novella in court. (Adrian de Kock/Gallo Images)

Convicted murderer Guatemalan citizen Diego Novella in court. (Adrian de Kock/Gallo Images)

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The lawyer for Guatemalan killer Diego Novella received a tongue lashing as he submitted an application for permission to appeal his client's conviction and sentence for the murder of US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban.

"But Mr Booth, this is shocking conduct," Western Cape High Court Judge Vincent Saldanha said on Thursday.

Booth wants to appeal on the grounds that his client's fair trial rights may have been compromised, and that there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a lesser sentence.

He also hopes that the issue of criminal capacity and intention to commit a crime will be re-examined if he is successful. In addition, Booth took issue with the way one witness was cross-examined.

But Saldanha was not pleased that Booth appeared to be raising the issues afresh.

"You now conjure up new reasons that you were not given sufficient time to address the admissibility of new evidence," said Saldanha.

"You objected. You were overruled. You did not ask for more time."

Legal duel

Novella was not present.

Saldanha's tongue-lashing continued: "You give no details. You literally make sweeping statements in the application for leave to appeal."

Booth responded: "With respect, I must disagree," before he added a deferential "as the court pleases" and sat down.

The State opposed the application for leave to appeal.

Once the arguments had been wrapped up, Saldanha's tone softened and he thanked Booth for the legal duel.

"This court takes fair trial rights very seriously," said Saldanha.

He also asked after Novella and asked Booth to send his regards when he next consulted with him.

Judgment reserved

Judgment in the leave to appeal application was reserved.

In September, the judge sentenced Novella to 20 years in prison.

Kabrins Alban was murdered at a hotel in upmarket Cape Town beach enclave, Camps Bay, on July 29, 2015.

Novella and the divorced marketing executive had a fraught relationship, but she had agreed to meet him in South Africa to try alternative therapies for the Lyme disease that left her bedridden for long periods.

During the trial, the court heard that Novella blamed a concoction of natural substances he had taken while on a "soul journey" and detoxification process in South Africa for his abnormal behaviour on the day Kabrins Alban was found dead.

READ: Guatemalan murder accused claims he was attacked by a 'demonic entity'

When her body was found, sweets and crisps were thrown on it, among other items found at the scene.

In handing down the 20-year sentence, Saldanha had found that: "The deliberate desecration of the body of the deceased by the accused and his wanton humiliation of her abounds as a serious aggravating factor."

Read more on:    gabriela kabrins alban  |  diego novella  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime

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