Goddard’s defence argues legal admissibility of ‘tainted’ evidence

2018-02-01 13:45
Advocate Shane Matthews leaves the High Court with his client Darren Goddard (R) who faces 15 counts in total- of sexual assault, rape and accessing child pornography. The former school counsellor has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has provided his side on each.

Advocate Shane Matthews leaves the High Court with his client Darren Goddard (R) who faces 15 counts in total- of sexual assault, rape and accessing child pornography. The former school counsellor has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has provided his side on each. (Ian Carbut)

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The state began leading evidence in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Wednesday afternoon on the pornography related charges facing former primary school counsellor Darren Goddard.

However, the media was barred from being present to hear the testimony following an application by state advocate Frank van Heerden.

Judge Kate Pillay ruled that due to the “sensitive nature” of the evidence, it would be heard in camera.

Goddard (32) faces 15 counts in total — one of accessing child pornography, another of being in possession of child pornography, and the rest of sexual assault and rape.

The incidents all allegedly took place between 2012 and 2016. Its alleged that devices linked to him were found to contain 3 662 images of child pornography. Goddard has denied guilt on all charges.

Except for one, all his alleged victims, had allegedly been referred to Goddard because he was the school’s counsellor.

Earlier on Wednesday, the judge heard argument on whether or not evidence could be led on the first two charges relating to the pornography allegedly found on storage devices linked to Goddard. The defence wanted the court to first listen to argument on the legal admissibility of certain evidence before any witnesses were called to testify in the actual trial.

Advocate Shane Matthews, acting for Goddard, argued that his client’s right to privacy had been infringed, including the right to privacy of his communications. As such, all the evidence was “tainted”, said Matthews.

“It is not prejudicial to anyone if we decide on the trial within the trial aspect first … we are complaining that the whole trial cannot start. There is no consequence or prejudice to the state,” said Matthews.

Van Heerden said in reply that documents were seized after “all the investigations were completed”.

Goddard, in his plea, claims that there was an infringement of his professional legal privilege, his right to privacy and that investigations against him were unlawful.

He maintains for example that police infringed his right to professional legal privilege that exists between a client and his attorney by allegedly seizing confidential information that he gave to his psychologist to take to his attorney. Van Heerden said however the expert witness due to testify on the pornography charges had completed his investigations before the alleged infringement was said to have taken place.

Goddard denies ever accessing or being in possession of child pornography. He said that one of the laptops on which pornography was found, had been used exclusively by a woman.

Regarding these charges, the state alleges in its indictment that on June 21, 2016, the school headmaster handed Goddard’s work laptop to police.

Six days later, Goddard allegedly called a woman and told her to remove DVD discs and a USB device from his house and destroy them. The woman removed the storage devices and handed them to Goddard’s attorney at the time.

This attorney withdrew from the matter and handed the devices to his new attorney’s receptionist.

An attorney from the firm viewed the devices. On November 4, the devices were handed to police.

The indictment further added that the same woman handed over Goddard’s other laptop to the investigating officer on August 3. This had a profilefor a Darren, which could not be accessed as it had a password.

The indictment also said that on December 13, a forensic specialist received the storage devices, the HP and laptops.

He examined the devices and 3 662 images identified as child pornography were found.

Goddard used to keep one of the laptops at the school and his home and the other, at home.

The storage devices were kept at his home, added the document.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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