Paul O'Sullivan, co-accused found not guilty of kidnapping, extortion

2018-01-19 16:37
Paul O' Sullivan outside court. (File, Mpho Raborife, News24)

Paul O' Sullivan outside court. (File, Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg – Forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan and co-accused Melissa Naidu have been found not guilty on charges of kidnapping, intimidation and extortion in the Randburg Magistrate's Court.

"The state has dismally failed to prove the guilt of the accused in all counts," Magistrate Ndivhuwo Sethusha ruled on Friday.  

O'Sullivan and Naidu were accused of threatening, intimidating and kidnapping Cora van der Merwe from her office at law firm Ronald Bobroff & Partners Incorporated in October 2016.

READ: O'Sullivan denies kidnapping allegations

O'Sullivan said during his investigation he found that Van der Merwe was leaking company information to then Moneyweb journalist Tony Beamish.

O'Sullivan and Naidu allegedly took Van der Merwe from her office to obtain a statement about a leak of documents from the company.

"What worries this court about her actions is that a journalist is not a real authority to deal with protective disclosure. Therefore, her actions of sending out privilege information is unlawful and malicious," Magistrate Sethusha said.

Assault denied

"It is in my view that this case is badly investigated. I find it surprising that there is no eyewitness from the colleagues of the complainant…," she said.

Sethusha said if Van der Merwe felt threatened when O'Sullivan and Naidu visited her at her office, she should have alerted her colleagues or called the police.

"She (Van der Merwe) had not played open cards to this court," she said.

During previous appearances O'Sullivan's lawyer, Advocate Willie Vermeulen SC, asked if he had assaulted or caused Van der Merwe any damage.

"Absolutely not," he replied at the time.

O'Sullivan also said the allegations of kidnapping were "completely false".

Fraud uncovered

O'Sullivan also told the court that when they went to Van der Merwe's office they introduced themselves.

"She knew exactly who I was," he said.

He said he only asked for the meeting to move to his offices because he remembered he had a doctor's appointment.

He also denied allegations that during their meeting he threatened Van der Merwe with jail time and that she wouldn't see her children again.

News24 previously reported that the leak eventually led to massive fraud being uncovered at the law firm, the Bobroffs fleeing to Australia and finally being disbarred from practising law in this country.

Van der Merwe never revealed any of this to O'Sullivan or Naidu, who were executing their mandate as appointed by Darren Bobroff.

'Malicious prosecution'

This was despite her stating she had already made "disclosures in terms of the Protected Disclosures Act" to Beamish and an advocate, Schalk van der Sandt.

In their court submissions, O'Sullivan and Naidu said they regarded the case as malicious prosecution.

The defence applied for the case to be dismissed, saying that Van der Merwe contradicted herself under cross-examination.

During his testimony, O'Sullivan said Van der Merwe had said she never met Beamish, however, as the interview progressed she admitted that she knew him.

"It was only after she had made submissions that I told her she could be charged," he said.

Read more on:    paul o'sullivan  |  johannesburg

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