Thumb print on condom linked suspect to Hannah Cornelius rape, murder, court hears

2018-10-16 18:55
The four accused in trial for the murder and rape of Hannah Cornelius and attack on her friend Cheslin Marsh are seen in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

The four accused in trial for the murder and rape of Hannah Cornelius and attack on her friend Cheslin Marsh are seen in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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A thumb print on the packet of a government-issued condom was linked to one of the four people accused of the rape and murder of Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

This was the testimony of police Captain Jan Bester who did the final analysis of the single thumb print found on a condom packet found in the aftermath the murder of Cornelius, 21, and the brutal attack on her friend Cheslin Marsh, 22.

The two were ambushed while they were chatting in her VW Golf in the early hours of Saturday May 27, 2017. 

They had spent Friday night with friends at various popular hangouts in the town.

READ: Inconsolable friend unable to testify further as he recounts hell ride that led to Hannah Cornelius’ murder

He had walked her home because it was late and planned on long-boarding back to his flat. She insisted on driving him home in her car afterwards.

Marsh has testified how he and Cornelius were attacked while they chatted in the car in Bird Street, Stellenbosch.

He was put in the boot and the group drove off with them. He survived the ordeal but has permanent hearing loss in one ear after being beaten severely.

Cornelius' body was found later on Saturday morning near a borehole on a farm outside Stellenbosch by two technicians who had come back to finish repairs.

State pathologist Dr Deidre Abrahams testified that Cornelius most probably died quickly after two blows to the head which fractured her skull and tore her brain. 

She had also been raped, and was stabbed in the neck.

The discovery of Cornelius' body led to a massive police hunt that included the K9 unit.

Bester did not state in court where the wrapper with the thumb print was found. 

He testified that his colleague, Warrant Officer Mdlalose, ran the print through the police's system and found a match. 

It was allegedly linked to Geraldo Parsons, one of the four people standing trial.

Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk, Nashwill Julies and Parsons face charges that include kidnapping, rape and murder in connection with the attack on the two.

Part of Bester's job is to confirm findings related to fingerprints and palm prints. He testified that for a thumb print to be admissible as evidence, it has to indicate seven features that specialists in his field look for.

Video footage 

The court heard that this thumb print not only met that requirement, but showed another nine characteristics that ascertained without a doubt that it belonged to Parsons.

Bester said a print of Parsons' thumb was also taken on Tuesday morning, and it was confirmed again that the print lifted off the condom wrapper was his.

"It's a government-issued condom?" asked prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst.

"Yes," said Bester.

"With the coat of arms of South Africa?" added Badenhorst. Bester confirmed.

After Bester's testimony, the origin of three separate sets of video footage police Sergeant Sithembo Choene obtained from a Caltex garage, a Shell garage and a Battery Centre was discussed.

Only he was shown the footage on Tuesday as the court did not have a white screen available. He said it would be impossible for him to change the time stamp that is embedded at source.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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Read more on:    hannah cornelius  |  cape town  |  crime

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