Court to rule on ‘trial within a trial’ today

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The High Court will today make a determination on whether George Francis Lovell, who allegedly killed businessman Allan Lawrence Banks before stashing his body in the boot of his car, gave his statement to the police under duress.

The trial of Lovell (31) of 88 Glenara Avenue, Hillside, and also owner of Invollata Mining Group, began in May 2014 in the High Court before Justice Joseph Musakwa sitting with assessors Mr Tennyson Gweme and Mr Gilbert Chakuvinga.

Lovell was on the run since July 2012 after allegedly committing the murder.

He is alleged to have also made off with $20 000. He was arrested in April 2013. When the trial started Lovell, who is being represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, denied the murder charge. He claimed that his statement to the police was made under duress.

This prompted the court to order a trial-within-a trial to establish the circumstances under which the statement was recorded from Lovell by the police.

Adv Mpofu confirmed the latest development yesterday.

“The court was supposed to make a ruling on the inquiry made in the matter, but the ruling was moved to tomorrow (today),” said Adv Mpofu.

According to the indictment read in court, Banks and Lovell were acquaintances and both gold dealers.

On July 1, 2012 and at around 11 am, Banks left his shop Goodlife Appliances situated in Rhodesville, Greendale, intending to meet his brother Gordon at an unspecified venue, the court heard.

It is alleged that Banks had a satchel containing $20 000 and was driving a Toyota Corolla, registration number ABV3685. At around 12pm, Lovell sent his maid, Letwin Ganzwa, to buy cigarettes at Clyde Shopping Centre, about four kilometres away, thereby leaving him alone at the house. On her return, the maid found a car similar to Banks’ parked adjacent to the study and facing the main gate, it is alleged.

The maid handed over cigarettes to Lovell who got into Banks’ car and headed to an unknown destination. On July 15, the car was found parked at the corner of Herbert Chitepo Avenue and Mazowe Street, with Banks’ body which was in the early stages of decomposition stashed in the boot.

0n April 8 last year, Lovell was arrested in connection with killing Banks by striking him with a crow- bar on the head.

Lovell allegedly led police officers to the recovery of the crowbar, which will be produced in court as an exhibit.

The defence seeks to prove that Banks was murdered by unidentified criminals acting on the instructions of unnamed senior members of the society.

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