Distraught Gabriela Alban's dad faces his daughter's alleged killer - Times LIVE
Tue May 23 07:03:10 SAST 2017

Distraught Gabriela Alban's dad faces his daughter's alleged killer

Justin Deffenbacher | 2017-05-19 06:20:35.0
Family members of the slain US businesswoman Gaby Alban leave the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court after the first appearance of her alleged murderer Diego Dougherty Novella in 2015. Howdy Kabrins‚ Alban’s father‚ delivered his final statement on Thursday morning. File photo.
Image by: Esa Alexander

Howdy Kabrins, the father of Gabriela Alban, stood tall in the witness box in the Cape Town High Court yesterday.

Despite several attempts by Judge Vincent Saldanha to adjourn the case for lunch, Kabrins refused to step down, continuing his testimony.

Gripping the side of the box as he spoke, Kabrins recounted his daughter's relationship with murder accused Diego Novella and what it was like to hear about her death in 2015.

Kabrins looked directly at Novella as he spoke. He banged his fist against the witness box and in a raised but shaky voice described his emotions on learning what had happened to his child.

"From seeing her, from being told by the police what they could tell me, by meeting the pathologist, knowing they had to keep part of her body here and that all of her body couldn't go back for her burial, from all of the information ... she was brutally, brutally murdered, horrifically, almost satanically."

After a pause during which he closed his eyes, he went on to tell of a letter found on Alban's body.

Because the letter had not previously been mentioned, prosecutor Monare Julius attempted to interrupt Kabrins. But Saldanha waved off the interruption, allowing Kabrins to finish.

He said: "What I can't process is the letter put on her body stating an ugly message of hate. I have been traumatised.

"My only child is dead, I will not have any grandchildren, I will not have someone to say kaddish [a Jewish prayer for the dead] for me when I die. My heart is broken. I will do everything I can to get justice. I will always be her dad and she will always be my baby," Kabrins said.

Novella stared straight ahead.

Many in the courtroom were moved to tears.

Kabrins spent most of his testimony describing the "aggressive behaviour" of Novella that began when Kabrins accompanied his daughter to Guatemala in 2014 to visit Novella.

He and Novella took his daughter home when she experienced severe symptoms of Lyme disease, which results from a tick bite.

"Her physical condition made it difficult and she required her daddy's assistance," Kabrins said.

During the three days Kabrins spent with his daughter's new boyfriend Novella was "rude and off-putting".

From their first encounter, Kabrins said he was worried by the large tattoo across Novella's neck but dismissed his concern.

Kabrins said Novella became progressively more distant, refusing to walk with him and his daughter on their day trips, and retreating into his home office.

When he used Novella's computer, Kabrins said, he was greeted by "pornographic images". Novella often smoked dagga.

Kabrins left for Los Angeles after being reassured by his daughter.

But later "she said she was frightened. The accused kept saying she must come to meet him," Kabrins said.

The next time he saw his daughter was in a Cape Town mortuary.

- TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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