Alleged wife killer George Barkhuizen accuses state of 'suppressing' evidence
Counsel for George Barkhuizen‚ the man who allegedly gunned down his wife to claim her life insurance policies, has accused the state of "suppressing" evidence that could vindicate him.
Barkhuizen is on trial in the South Gauteng High Court for murdering his wife, Odette, in Oakdene‚ south of Johannesburg.
Odette was killed on June 11 2015 at about 1.30pm. Only her cell phone was taken.
The state alleges that Barkhuizen murdered Odette‚ who had asked him for a divorce‚ after applying, under false pretences, for life insurance policies worth a cumulative R7.5m with multiple insurers.
Barkhuizen allegedly also forged the policy applications and a copy of Odette's will‚ which made him the sole beneficiary of her estate.
Barkhuizen's lawyer, Sita Kolbe SC, told the court on Wednesday that state's case was compromised.
"It is respectfully submitted that the court, in assessing the evidence, in particular when considering which inferences can legitimately be drawn from the proved facts, ought to take into account that the investigation is compromised and unreliable."
She said the state was selective in presenting its case before the court.
"In assessing the evidence, all the evidence, and not only a careful selection thereof, must be considered, including the likelihood that relevant facts may have been omitted from the docket.
"There must be a reason that she [the investigating officer] did not disclose all the evidence. It is indicative of the accused's innocence," Kolbe argued.
She contended that the state had not proved that Barkhuizen stood to benefit from his wife's death.
"The state further incorrectly submitted that only the accused stood to gain from the death of the deceased. There is simply no evidence on record to support this contention. The family of the accused would also have benefited from any insurance on the life of the deceased."
She said her client's fair trial rights were infringed in that he was not told that he was not obliged to make a statement to the police and that he could do so when his lawyer was present.
"Various witnesses were called without statements of them having been provided to the defence before the trial commenced. The right to a fair trial includes the right of access to witness statements before the trial," Kolbe argued.
"Evidence was suppressed by the investigating team, a fact that infringed the accused's right to a fair, impartial and objective investigation," she added.
She argued that the state's involvement of private investigator Paul O'Sullivan in the case could prejudice her client.
"Although there is no objection in principle to calling in the assistance of a private investigator to assist the police, the danger exists that this involvement, as is submitted happened in this case, may result in a biased investigation of which no record exists that can be examined by an accused."
The case was postponed to September 19 for judgment.