Lack of private psychiatric assessment delays murder trial

Windhoek-The unavailability of a private psychiatrist to assess the mental stability of a man who is to go on trial for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend at least 27 times in front of her four-year-old son, was the reason the trial could not start yesterday as set down in the Windhoek High Court.

Johny Ryno Diergaardt was already assessed by state psychiatrist, Dr Frederika Mthoko, and private psychiatrist Dr Reinhardt Sieberhagen, and declared fit to stand trial.

Sieberhagen however said that Diergaardt suffers from a diminished mental capacity for sentencing purposes, but that he was in his full mental capabilities when he committed the offence.

Mthoko's assessment also found Diergaardt knew what he was doing when he stabbed Tiffany Tanita Lewin on March 3, 2014 at the room he rented at Erf 427, Garnet Street in Khomasdal.

Defense counsel Boris Isaacks told Judge Nate Ndauendapo that money for the private assessment was now available, but the doctor they had in mind was not available. He asked the judge to give him a chance to talk to the psychiatrist to see when his client can be fitted in.

Counsel for the state, Seredine Jacobs, was not happy, but agreed that it would be in the interest of justice if Diergaardt was seen by an independent psychiatrist.

She however cautioned that the continuous delays to find a psychiatrist should not unnecessarily stall the trial.

Judge Ndauendapo agreed and gave Isaacks until tomorrow to make arrangements with the psychiatrist.

According to the indictment, Lewin and her son arrived during the early evening hours to collect some property, which Diergaardt earlier the same day removed from her handbag.

He then stabbed her at least 27 times with knives, after which he fled the scene.

Newspaper reports at the time indicated that the four-year-old boy tried to intervene and managed to stab the accused on his upper thigh in an attempt to stop the accused from continuing to stab his mother.

The deceased died on the scene due to blood loss.

The accused was arrested when he returned to his room later that night.

He remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility's section for trial-awaiting prisoners.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia