Was Hunt framed?

2016-02-09 10:52
Advocate Penny Hunt arrives at the high court.

Advocate Penny Hunt arrives at the high court. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg  - KwaZulu-Natal advocate Penny Hunt’s legal team intend to show that her former secretary had the “malicious intent” and computer skills to “plant” evidence on Hunt’s computer to falsely implicate her in a bugging scandal.

Allyson Bradbury (formerly Shrives) blew the whistle on Hunt’s alleged “bugging” of the Pietermaritzburg advocates’ chambers the day she left work (March 10, 2011) following an argument with Hunt.

She revealed to Pietermaritzburg Bar chairperson Adrian Rall SC on that day that she had “clicked on an icon” on Hunt’s computer and when she opened a file came across a voice recording that “sounded like” the voice of the Bar administrator Esme van der Watt.

The court has also heard testimony from Houston “Tex” Impey that he placed a listening device in the ceiling of above the office in question, allegedly on Hunt’s instructions, and that he installed software on her computer that would have enabled her to listen in on conversations in the office.

Hunt is currently facing an application by the KZN Society of Advocates to strike her off the roll in connection with the bugging and other allegations.

It was revealed during legal arguments yesterday concerning the scope of the evidence the court ought to allow Hunt to lead in her defence, that her legal team intend to show that Bradbury was “dishonest and malicious towards Hunt”. Also, that she had the computer “hacking” skills and access to Hunt’s passwords, server and computer to have enabled her to plant false evidence on Hunt’s computer.

Peter Hodes SC (for Hunt) said the evidence he plans to lead will also focus on Bradbury’s alleged “true motive” for telling Rall about the alleged voice recording on Hunt’s computer. “She admitted that she was aware it would cause Ms Hunt harm,” he said.

Jean Marais SC, on behalf of the KZN Society of Advocates, was opposed to some of the evidence that Hunt plans to lead saying it was “collateral”, irrelevant and inadmissible.

It includes evidence of e-mails Bradbury is alleged to have intercepted during an acrimonious divorce from her ex-husband, which Marais said would lead to “an airing of the entire Shrives versus Shrives” divorce all over again, and a “neverending circle” of evidence that would lead nowhere.

However, Judge Albert Kruger and Judge Connie Mocumie ruled against him and decided to allow all the evidence Hunt is seeking to lead, except for one potential witness (businessman Poobie Naidoo).

Responding to Hunt’s intention to suggest that Bradbury had the hacking skills to plant evidence on Hunt’s computer, Marais termed this a “non-starter”.

He said this wasn’t suggested to Bradbury because there is “not a shred of evidence” to support it, and added the allegation was “directly rendered meaningless” by Impey’s testimony.

Responding, Hodes said he had not put it to Bradbury in cross examination that she was involved in “any bugging” because there was no factual basis to do so.

However, he said this did not prevent him from arguing that this “possibility cannot be excluded”.

“I can’t say she did it … But I can say that you can’t exclude it,” he told the court.

The case is continuing today when Hunt’s first witness is expected to testify.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court

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