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NRI, Donovan Moodley  pleads guilty in kidnapping-murder trial

Durban, July 26, 2005
IOL, By Alex Eliseev
NRI press

NRI, student 24 (non-resident Indian ), Donovan Moodley has pleaded guilty to the charge of murdering a Bond University student Leigh Matthews girl , 21 and what he did with the ransom money

The Johannesburg High Court heard on Tuesday how Donovan Moodley killed


Donovan Moodley        Leigh Matthews
Pictures by-Shayne Robinson, Sapa

However, what happened between her death and when her body was found remained a mystery.

In July last year Donovan Moodley  demanded R3,00,000 ransom for her release.But when her parents only paid R50 000, Moodley shot the young girl in the head and then dumped her body in a field on the outskirts of Johannesburg on July 9. Her body was found on July 21.

By the time the court adjourned, pathologist Hendrik Scholtz had concluded his testimony relating to the state's belief that Moodley did not kill her at the spot in Walkerville where she was found, but froze her body for some time before placing it there.

'We are just sitting and keeping our emotions intact'
The crux of the matter appeared to be blood and the rate of decomposition.

During the post-mortem, Scholtz said he found only 400ml of blood in Leigh's body. Small traces of blood were found at the scene south of Johannesburg where a municipal worker cutting grass found her body.

The remaining litres usually found in a human body were not there.

After the first gunshot to the head, she could have been unconscious and paralysed, but her heart may have beaten for a further 20 minutes, Scholtz said.

Scholtz also testified that no post-mortem sunburn was found on her body, her hair was clean and her French manicure was in pristine condition.

"The amount of blood we found in the body, and on the scene, did not make sense," he said.

"There is a lot of blood missing."

The toxicology, report, which was part of the post-mortem report, also showed that she was on the anti-depressant Citalopram at the time of her death. Scholtz said she died within 24 hours of taking the last dose.

Rigor mortis starts within eight hours of being killed and ends within 36 hours.

In their cross examination, Moodley's defence asked if the cold night temperatures or a cold wind could have had the same effect as a refrigerator.

Scholtz said he did not feel that could answer that.

They also found freezer burn on her feet - a reddening of the skin.

The average temperature in the Walkerville area recorded at that time was between five and 15°C. A temperature below 4°C is needed to stop decomposition.

Advocate Johan Pretorius maintained that his client denied these allegations.

He said Moodley had already admitted to shooting Matthews and dragging her into the bushes.

It would now be up to the state to prove otherwise.

After Tuesday's hearing, Leigh's mother Sharon Matthews said Moodley's apology on Monday was "empty words" and called him a "cold and calculating coward".

Between 50 and 100 people had gathered outside the Johannesburg High Court as the Moodley and Matthews family came out.

Rob Matthews said his family did not want to look at the grisly crime scene pictures shown during the hearing.

"We are just sitting and keeping our emotions intact," he said.

His fiancee sat in the court showing little emotion.

A ballistics expert will start his testimony on Wednesday. - Sapa

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