Showering American Absent From Court

ONE of the American citizens charged with murdering a young man in Windhoek four years ago failed to appear in court as required yesterday – because he was taking his time with his morning shower and grooming routine.

Marcus Kevin Thomas’ absence from the dock in the Windhoek High Court did not please Judge Christie Liebenberg, who is presiding over the trial of Thomas (29) and a co-accused, fellow American Kevan Donnell Townsend (28). Judge Liebenberg was informed by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef that according to police officers who had to transport the two men from prison to the court, Thomas was taking his time having a shower and shaving, with the result that he was left at the prison when his co-accused was escorted to court.

Judge Liebenberg reminded the officers that a court order authorising the police to use minimum force to bring Thomas to court remained in effect and could be used to secure his presence in court as required.

The judge ordered that Thomas and Townsend must again appear in court on 22 January.

The order allowing the police to use the necessary force to secure Thomas’ presence in court was made in November last year, after Thomas remained absent from court for five days following an unsuccessful attempt to escape from Windhoek Correctional Facility.

Thomas was injured during the attempted escape when he got entangled on a razor wire fence at the prison, after he had managed to break out of the cell where he was kept. The escape attempt took place during the early morning hours of 3 November, which was the day that his and Townsend’s trial was supposed to begin.

The two men pleaded not guilty to all charges in connection with the killing of the 25-year-old Andre Peter Heckmair in Windhoek on 7 January 2011 when their trial finally got off to a delayed start nearly two months ago.

Heckmair was killed when he was shot in the head in a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek, where the two accused men had allegedly lured him to.

Thomas and Townsend are on trial on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, importation of firearm barrels into Namibia without a permit, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so.

Their trial came to a quick halt again, though, when Thomas’ defence lawyer told Judge Liebenberg that he had doubts about his client’s mental condition after Thomas indicated to him that he wanted to plead guilty to the charges on which he had denied guilt five days earlier.

Defence lawyer Werner van Rensburg withdrew from the case after he had asked the judge to order that Thomas’ mental health should be investigated by a psychiatrist to determine if he is mentally fit to stand his trial.

With the next scheduled court appearance of the two accused Judge Liebenberg should be informed if Thomas’ period of psychiatric observation has begun yet.

Thomas and Townsend have been in custody since being arrested at a guest house in Windhoek on 7 January 2011. Their trial is at this stage due to continue from 20 July to 7 August.

Defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht and Monty Karuaihe represented Townsend and Thomas respectively in court yesterday.

Source : The Namibian