Camps Bay murder accused Novella declared suicide risk

2018-06-11 18:18
Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella speaks with his lawyer William Booth during his court appearance at Western Cape High Court on May 18, 2017 in Cape Town. (File, Gallo Images)

Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella speaks with his lawyer William Booth during his court appearance at Western Cape High Court on May 18, 2017 in Cape Town. (File, Gallo Images)

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Guatemalan murder-accused Diego Novella was declared a suicide risk on Monday after being rushed to the district surgeon. This after he told the Western Cape High Court he had lied when testifying on how his girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Albans died, and that he was feeling unwell.

The final argument in the case against him was expected to run from Monday, but after the startling statements, Judge Vincent Saldanha adjourned proceedings and Novella was whisked to the Victoria Hospital to see the district surgeon.

Novella is accused of murdering the US sales executive at an upmarket hotel in Camps Bay on July 29, 2015.

In February he testified that he hit her and defecated on her because he thought she was a demonic entity. 

After that, he placed a piece of paper on her body with the word "cerote", which means "piece of sh*t" in Spanish, written on it.

"When I say I wrote it, it was my hand that wrote it. I didn't do it consciously," said Novella.

READ: 'I defecated on the entity' – murder accused Diego Novella

Speaking on the sidelines, his advocate William Booth told News24 he had told the court he was concerned about his client's emotional and mental well being after the startling statements and the judge had wanted Novella examined.

In addition to the district surgeon, he also wanted Novella to be examined by a private psychiatrist.

When Novella returned to the dock later on Monday, looking pale and bowed, Prosecutor Louise Fiester-Sampson said he had been diagnosed with a panic attack and posed a suicide risk, but could still follow proceedings.

Arrangements will be made for him to be cared for in line with protocols for inmates at risk of suicide.

Novella will also be moved from a single cell to a cell where there is more than one person, his belongings will be searched for any risky items, and staff will keep a closer watch on him.

"He should be fit for tomorrow (Tuesday)," she told Saldanha.

The judge repeatedly checked that there would be no clash of medication with Monday's tweak to increase his dosage.

Booth said he would try to get the private psychiatric evaluation done later on Monday, or by the time court resumes at 10:00 on Tuesday.

He would make sure prison authorities were aware that Novella was a suicide risk.

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Read more on:    diego novella  |  cape town  |  crime

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