Bail for 23-year-old in rugby case

2013-04-05 00:00

ONE of the men implicated in a deadly brawl that killed a British rugby fan went home last night into the arms of his family and three-month-old son.

At 23, he was thrown a lifeline by the Durban Magistrate’s Court and set free on bail of R2 000.

For now, he has escaped a charge of murder following the fatal beating of Brett Williams (29), hours after the Sharks and Rebels played at King’s Park two weekends ago.

Instead, he faces a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and another of crimen injuria, usually associated with the crime of making a derogatory remark

News of Williams’s death shocked the public and rugby fraternity. His body was repatriated to the UK this week.

It quickly became apparent police knew who the suspects were and they came under enormous pressure to arrest the assailants. Instead, they allowed the suspects to hand themselves over.

On Tuesday night, four men walked into Durban Central police station and surrendered themselves, while the fifth did so the following morning. They were kept in the cells at Durban North police station.

The court heard yesterday that the 23-year-old released from custody is a travelling salesman who earns R7 000 a month and lives with his parents, partner and child.

By consent with their legal teams, his four co-accused will stay in police cells until Monday, when all five will attend a formal identity parade at Brighton Beach police station.

The four in custody will later that day apply for bail. They each face a count of murder, three of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one charge of crimen injuria.

Security staff were allegedly beaten during the melee.

The court ordered that none of the men’s names or addresses could be published, nor their photographs taken, until the identity parade was completed. They are all aged between 23 to 25.

Their court appearance was brief. The gallery was packed with family, friends, and media.

There was little communication between the five as they strode into the dock. Four were dressed smartly in slacks and collared shirts; one wore jeans and a jacket.

Two of them sported the muscles so heavily publicised in the media, their shirts stretched tightly across their bulky physiques. Two of their alleged accomplices were slightly built by comparison.

All have hired their own legal teams, with two, who are brothers, retaining the services of the same lawyers.

Prosecutor Krishen Shah led little evidence, but indicated that there were two altercations between the parties and that Williams died as a result of the second one.

The first incident sparked off the fatal assault and allegedly began over an item of jewellery that was ripped from the neck of the accused released on bail.

“The four remaining accused came to his aid,” said Shah, emphasising that the charges against the man released from custody could still change to include murder.

The Witness approached the families for comment, but no one was prepared to talk.

Malcolm Lutge, a lawyer representing one of the implicated men, said of the family: “They are devastated by the turn of events. They are hoping for a speedy resolution.

“They fully support their son through this difficult time in his life.”

The friend of another parent said the family was holding up, but had already spent more than R50 000 on legal bills.

During an adjournment, one of the families prayed together in a circle.

Before the lunch break, there was talk among the legal teams of prosecutors cutting a deal with one of the five accused.

But when The Witness questioned the advocate representing the man identified as the possible state witness, he denied any offer had been made to them.

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