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Baby murder accused in new bail bid

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In spite of being in custody for over a year, the State has opposed bail again after it emerged the accused threatened the investigation officer

Emmanuel Welcome

A BARKLY West man, who has been charged with the murder of a seven-month-old baby, will know by next week whether he is eligible to be released on bail.

The accused, Emmanuel Welcome, was previously denied bail but brought another application for bail based on new facts in the Windsorton Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Welcome was arrested, along with the mother of the baby, on October 1, after the baby’s body was found inside a shanty which the two accused shared with another friend in Mataleng.

A statement by Welcome’s girlfriend, which was read to the court last year, stated that she saw the two accused assaulting the baby after returning from another nearby shanty.

The matter was previously postponed in order for the mother of the baby, who is the first accused in the matter, to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Welcome’s lawyer, Megan Kleinsmith, told the court that a delay in obtaining a bed for the first accused had resulted in Welcome being detained for a long period.

“The matter was delayed for a long period due to accused one not being allocated a bed for psychiatric evaluation. On December 9, 2016 the court heard that there was a bed available for accused one. However, during the next court appearance, which was on May 19, 2017, the court heard that accused one was number seven on the list for a bed. On June 23, 2017 the court was informed that accused one was number 12 on the list. This means that the accused was moving downwards on the list, instead of up. It is uncertain, therefore, how this will affect Welcome, as he has been kept in custody for a long time, which is unfair on him,” Kleinsmith said.

“This is an unreasonable delay. The matter has been on the roll for almost a year and the accused (Welcome) has been in custody since October 2016. He cannot be blamed for the delay in the allocation of a bed. We request that the accused be released on bail as justice delayed is justice denied,” she said.

The State, represented by advocate Shareen Links, said that it was not in the interest of justice for Welcome to be released.

“The State previously informed the court that the Director of Public Prosecutor’s office indicated that there was a backlog at the psychiatric hospital, which was why they could not send accused one to be evaluated and also why the process stopped for new patients. The delay in the allocation of beds is not in the hands of the State,” said Links.

He said they had also received new information that Welcome had threatened the investigating officer, Detective Constable Israel Taolo. According to Taolo he received a phone call from someone who was in custody with Welcome, warning him about threats allegedly made against him by Welcome.

“According to the detainee, the accused told him that he would set a trap for me or find a way to hurt me,” said Taolo.

He said that the fact that Welcome knew the witnesses could also affect the outcome of the case.

“There is a likelihood that the accused may interfere with the witnesses as two of the witnesses are his sisters and one other witness is his girlfriend. There is a likelihood that he will influence the witnesses. The eyewitness in the case also indicated that he had been threatened by both accused.

“The community also has an interest in the case and his release on bail could invoke anger among community members.”

Kleinsmith, however, argued that the threats to Taolo was merely hearsay. She added that although the accused knew the identities of the witnesses, strict bail conditions could be imposed to ensure that he did not interfere with the investigation.

The matter was postponed.