‘Police probe flawed’

2019-10-16 15:00

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The legal team of alleged sex abuser Darren Goddard has accused police investigators of only bringing forward evidence which implicates Goddard in the matter.

Goddard’s advocate, Shane Matthews, put it to state witness Colonel Wondra Bezuidenhout, the head of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, that the police investigation opened up the “possibility of suggestibility” to children and parents that abuse took place.

This was on the basis that, from all but one of the children Goddard allegedly molested, police had taken the child’s statement after a medical assessment.

“A parent will then say to the child, ‘something happened, tell me what happened’,” he told the Pietermaritzburg high court during Goddard’s trial on Tuesday.

Goddard 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 allegedly took place between 2012 and 2016 when Goddard was a counsellor at a local school. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Bezuidenhout denied that police had gone about the investigation the wrong way, and said in “about 80%” of these kinds of cases a child is referred for a medical assessment before a statement is taken. She told the court that police had “positive” evidence that showed sexual abuse had occurred before Goddard’s arrest in June 2016.

She said she and investigating officer Warrant Officer Neil Sivenarain had seized Goddard’s patient files from the school where he was a counsellor.

Matthews questioned why the defence was allegedly not provided with a statement from a teacher whose classroom “adjoined” Goddard’s office at the school.

He said this teacher would have been able to tell police whether she heard anything suspicious from Goddard’s office.

Matthews further alleged that Bezuidenhout threatened to charge the teacher when she called Bezuidenhout to ask for a copy of her statement to police. Bezuidenhout denied this.

Matthews claimed police only took that teacher’s statement “four to five months” after Goddard’s arrest, and said the teacher alleged in a statement to Matthews that Sivenarain drew graphic pictures of “damaged anuses” to show staff what Goddard had allegedly done.

He claimed that police had asked the parents of the children Goddard had counselled to get their children medically assessed. “It was totally wrong to go to parents who had no complaints [of abuse] saying to them that they need to do a medical exam.”

Bezuidenhout said the police had done this in the interests of the children.

The advocate added: “Some medical evidence says that [the abuse] could have happened when Goddard had no access to [the children].”

Bezuidenhout said she believed that the teacher’s statement was in the case docket. The case continues.

'The headlines are misleading'

Darren Goddard’s advocate, Shane Matthews, accused The Witness of using “misleading” headlines about his client.

He was responding to a street poster saying Goddard was trying to hide from police, and a headline saying that he tried to evade arrest. He said, however, that the body of the article raised no concerns.

Before proceedings could properly start at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday, Matthews told Judge Kate Pillay that there was “no evidence” that Goddard was hiding or attempting to escape. “Freedom of the press is something they shove in our faces,” he said, adding that reporters must ensure that the matter is reported “accurately”.

The headline and street poster were based on a statement in court by Warrant Officer Imraan Shaik who said that apparently Goddard “didn’t want to be traced”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  goddard trial

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