‘Father Christmas’ fires lawyer

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – Convicted child-sex offender James McNeil – dubbed the “Father Christmas” paedophile because of his many stints as a public Santa Claus – dismissed his lawyer on Friday. The move has delayed the start of sentencing procedure in his case, being heard in Cape Town regional court, until next Friday. McNeil was to have been sentenced on Friday on three counts of indecent assault, one involving a year-old toddler, and for possessing child pornography. The case had been postponed from March for reports from a probation officer and a correctional supervision official as part of the sentencing procedure. Although the reports were handed to the court on time, prosecutor Bronwyn Pithey asked for a postponement to May 30 to study them. At that stage, McNeil’s attorney, Sean Guy, announced that his client had terminated his mandate two minutes earlier.

‘Manifold’ reasons for axing lawyer

Guy told the court McNeil was upset because he had refused to visit McNeil in prison on demand. Guy said: “I informed my client I would consult him only once I had the probation and correctional supervision reports and that to consult him before I had them would have been premature.” McNeil told the court his reasons for ending Guy’s mandate were “manifold”, one of them being that he, himself, was not given an opportunity to prepare his defence or to rebut any of the evidence against him. He said he wanted to consult attorney Keith Gess before deciding whether to apply for legal aid. The case was postponed to May 16 when McNeil has to inform the court of his decision.