Rohde's lawyer concerned that State's witness was coached

2018-03-14 22:28
Murder accused Jason Rohde( Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

Murder accused Jason Rohde( Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

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Cape Town – Jason Rohde's advocate Graham Van der Spuy is concerned that a State witness in the murder trial of his client may have been coached, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

The witness, Desmond Daniels, was the maintenance worker at Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch, who unlocked the bathroom door of Rohde's suite, at the accused's request, the day that the body of Rohde's wife Susan was found.

The Rohdes were attending a conference at the estate on July 24, 2016 and Susan was found hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door.

Although her death was thought to be a suicide, the accused was later charged for her murder and he is on trial in the High Court.

READ: Rohde defence grills maintenance worker

Daniels was the first person to see Susan's body.

In court, Van der Spuy became frustrated with Daniels when he continually responded to questions with "no comment".

According to Van der Spuy, Daniels' demonstration on Wednesday, of how he found the cord around Susan's neck, and the number of times it was looped around the hook on the bathroom door, was inconsistent with what he had previously demonstrated to the court.

"You looped it around the hook 10 times. You barely made four loops last time," Van der Spuy put to him.

'No comment' 

But Daniels stood by his demonstration and refused to change his answer, responding with a simple "no comment".

"You keep on saying 'no comment'. Who taught you to say that?" asked Van der Spuy.

"My lady, I am concerned that this witness has been coached. Who were you with at lunch time today?"

Daniels said he had lunch on his own.

"I saw you with the lawyer from Spier. I have witnesses who saw you with the lawyer at lunch time," Van der Spuy charged.

But Daniels remained unshaken and once again responded with "no comment".

Van der Spuy then moved on to the police statements Daniels made after the incident.

The witness said he had made three police statements. The first was on the day of the murder, the second was made a few days later, and the third and final one was made a week thereafter.

"I don't understand. You make a statement when the facts are crystal clear in your mind. Why were you asked to make a second statement?" asked the advocate.

'Good memory'

Daniels explained that the police wanted to check whether he was sure of the facts.

Van der Spuy then tested Daniels' memory, by asking him to check the dates on the three statements.

Daniels had correctly remembered the dates of the first two statements, but faltered when he had to give the date for the last statement.

Daniels previously testified that he had a good memory.

"With your good memory, can you please tell the court when you made the last statement?" Van der Spuy asked.

The 62-year-old maintenance worker incorrectly recalled the date. He previously said he had signed it a week after the second statement was made.

"The date here says November 9, 2016. That is four months after the incident," said Van der Spuy.

Daniels will be cross-examined on Thursday.

Read more on:    jason rohde

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