The American is faking it say doctors

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WINDHOEK

Psychiatric reports by three experts declared that Marcus Thomas, the American accused of murder, is faking his mental disorder and is fit to stand trial.

Thomas had previously been diagnosed by local psychiatrist Dr Frederika Mthoko with neuro-cognitive disorder, apparently caused by a fall he suffered during a botched escape attempt from Windhoek Correctional Facility in November 2014.

Thomas and his co-accused Kevan Townsend are accused of killing Andre Heckmair with a single gunshot in the back of his head on January 7, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc.

The psychiatric reports were handed to High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg on Wednesday last week by Deputy Prosecutor General Antonia Verhoef.

The reports were compiled by clinical psychologist Willem Annandale, clinical psychiatrist Professor Tuviah Zabow and psychiatrist Dr Reinhardt Sieberhagen.

All three experts are of the opinion that Thomas is guilty of malingering, which is to fake mental disability in order to escape the consequences of his actions.

According to Annandale, Thomas made calculated mistakes when performing tasks, which are a clear indication of malingering.

“I’m unequivocal that Mr Thomas purposely attempted to distort his test results, certainly on this assessment, and probably on the previous assessments as well” said Annandale, adding that there are no grounds to diagnose him with even a mild neurocognitive disorder.

Professor Zabow said there is notably no associated psychiatric disturbance and remarked that the intellectual capacity of Thomas has “been retained, with good interaction and discussion of general information. There are no clinical or pathological findings to suggest an alternative cause of cerebral anoxia (reduced supply of oxygen to the brain) for the presentation. Cognitive, behavioural and personality issues are not present,” the professor concluded.

According to Dr Sieberhagen, Thomas’s feigned symptoms are very conscious and not dissociative.

“In summary, Mr Thomas’ symptoms do not conform to any known organic, psychiatric or physical illness. His symptoms are fabricated according to his own understanding of the sequelae of his reported head injury, typical of malingering,” Sieberhagen said and concluded that Thomas is able to understand the legal procedures and able to give instructions to his legal counsel without reserve.

The current legal eagle of Thomas indicated to the court that he would challenge the accuracy of the reports. James Diedericks, who is now defending Thomas, told the judge he will call Dr Sieberhagen and Professor Zabow to defend their respective findings and conclusions.

He also said the report of Annandale should be dismissed, as he was not part of the panel that observed Thomas. According to him the Criminal Procedure Act is clear on the issue.

He further said Zabow’s report is disputed, as he is not a neuropsychiatrist as the court ordered, but a clinical psychiatrist, who compiled a forensic psychiatric report and not a neuro-psychiatric report.

According to Diedericks the report by Sieberhagen lacks substance, as the assessment was inadequate – with no supporting analysis.

The judge postponed the matter to April 27 for another case management to hear whether Diedericks managed to secure the presence of the psychiatrists.

The State had disputed Thomas’ earlier diagnosis and asked the court to order new tests by neuro-psychiatrists.

Thomas and Townsend are also charged with importing two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit and for possessing a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition without a license.

It is further alleged that the accused removed a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise disposed of some of the pages in the book.

Townsend is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji.

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