Boy’s evidence delayed

THE evidence of the first child due to testify at the sexual assault and rape trial of former school counsellor Darren Goddard was delayed on Monday because by the time court started the boy was “too tired”.

The case was due to resume in the Pietermaritzburg High Court at 10 am, but was delayed until 11.30 am. It could not start on time because the assessor was busy in a different court.

State advocate Attie Truter later told the trial judge that the little boy, who had arrived at court at 9 am, was not in a position to testify so late in the day.

“I have been informed it will not be in the interest of justice to continue today,” he said.

Goddard’s advocate Shane Matthews had no objections, saying he understood. It is believed the seven-year-old was tired and would not have been able to concentrate.

Truter told Judge Kate Pillay that a psychologist will be sitting in court to listen to the evidence of the children.

He is regarded as an “expert witness” and his expertise will relate to the “patterns of disclosure and grooming”.

The incidents allegedly happened between 2012 to 2016.

The former counsellor’s alleged victims were boys aged between five and 12 years old. Truter was also given the go-ahead by Judge Pillay for the evidence of the children to be given through an interme- diary.

This was to prevent “undue mental stress and suffering” they would go through in open court, said Truter.

Matthews also did not object to this.

Goddard has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts in total — one of accessing child pornography, another of being in possession of child pornography, and the rest for sexual assault and rape.

Goddard claims some of the charges were initiated by the investigating officer, in other instances the boys were sexually assaulted while he was in prison and that on one count, he was charged even before the boy made a statement to police. The alleged victims were pupils and almost all had been counselled by Goddard for various behavourial and educational difficulties. The case was to continue yesterday at 9.30 am. The Fever was unable to get an update at the time of print deadline on Tuesday (midday).