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Third psychiatrist to evaluate teenage murder accused

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Brown was found dead on May 21 2016 with six gunshot wounds (two to the head) on the farm Jonkerwater, where the couple lived

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THE SHORTAGE of psychiatrists in the Northern Cape has led to yet another postponement in the murder trial of a teenager accused of killing his father’s girlfriend by shooting her several times with a .22 rifle on a farm outside Prieska.

Nineteen-year-old Cornelius Frans Vermeulen, from the farm Jonkerwater outside Prieska, is charged with murdering Serifa Abygail Jennifer Brown, who was in a live-in relationship with his father.

The incident happened on Saturday, May 21 2016 and at the time Vermeulen was 17 years old.

Vermeulen previously pleaded not guilty on the grounds that, at the time of the incident, he was suffering from a mental illness and in his plea explanation he said that at the time of the offence he did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of his actions and therefore had diminished criminal capacity.

The basis of his argument is contained in a report from a clinical psychologist, Lenmarie Stanton, who evaluated Vermeulen at the request of his defence team.

His lawyer, Ferdi van Heerden, previously disputed the findings of the State-appointed psychiatrists, Dr Piotrowski and Dr Sietshiro from West End Hospital.

The report from Dr Piotrowski and Dr Sietshiro had found that Vermeulen was capable of following the court proceedings in order to make a proper defence and knew the wrongfulness of the alleged act and had the ability to act accordingly.

The case was yesterday again postponed for another psychiatrist to be appointed and to evaluate Vermeulen, after Van Heerden applied for his client to be evaluated by a third psychiatrist in terms of the recently amended act.

The State prosecutor, Ronewa Makhaga, confirmed that the State would make a list of psychiatrists available to the defence, from which they could choose one to evaluate Vermeulen.

Brown, who lived with Vermeulen’s father, Albertus Vermeulen, was found dead on May 21 2016 with six gunshot wounds (two to the head) on the farm Jonkerwater, where the couple lived.

Incident

At the time of the incident, the accused lived in Prieska during the week, where he attended school. However, he often spent his weekends on his father’s farm.

On the day of the alleged incident, Vermeulen and Brown were on the farm together. That evening, Vermeulen contacted his father on his cellphone on numerous occasions.

Later during the same evening, Vermeulen travelled alone to the house of his grandfather in Prieska. He had a .22 rifle with him.

Police were then contacted and they went to the farm, where Brown’s body was discovered.

According to the autopsy report, Brown sustained six gunshot wounds. It was, however, the two gunshots to the head that killed her.

The matter was yesterday postponed to next year by Northern Cape High Court Acting Judge Steven Groenewald.