June date for Hilton Shaw’s appeal

2011-01-27 00:00

A FULL bench of the high court will decide the fate of Hilton Shaw (59) who appealed yesterday against his conviction for the murder of his wife Susan, who was shot on the couple’s isolated estate at Lake Lyndhurst on June 3, 2007.

Shaw did not appeal against his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment.

The appeal court reserved judgment.

Shaw, whose R100 000 bail has been extended pending his appeal, sat in on court proceedings.

He was found guilty of his wife’s murder by Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner, who rejected the possibility that Susan Shaw had committed suicide or been attacked by an intruder, as suggested by the defence.

She found Shaw to be a “highly intelligent” and sophisticated person who had considered every aspect and had a “ready answer” for all questions raised in the case.

Evidence showed Susan Shaw bled to death from a “contact” bullet wound fired through three layers of clothing directly into the area just above her right armpit.

Forensic pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal said she would have bled to death within 10 to 15 minutes, but would have been conscious for the first five minutes.

Defence advocate Murray Pitman submitted that evidence and information before the trial court did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that Shaw shot his wife.

There were no witnesses to the shooting and the state had relied purely on circumstantial evidence.

Pitman submitted that Shaw’s evidence that his wife was depressed in the days prior to the shooting, that she was epileptic and seeing a psychiatrist and psycho-therapist and that she had attempted suicide twice before, was not disputed, but this was ignored by the trial court in assessing the possibility of suicide.

He also submitted that the evidence of expert witnesses, forensic pathologist Perumal and ballistics expert Kobus Steyl did not exclude the possibility of an attempted suicide, although they believed it was “unlikely”.

Pitman further argued that the trial judge’s conclusion that there could not have been an intruder was also unreasonable.

State advocate Dorian Paver, however, urged the court to confirm Shaw’s conviction.

He said the appeal court has limited powers to interfere with the trial judge’s findings and that the trial court has the advantage of “seeing and hearing the witnesses and being steeped in the atmosphere of the trial”.

He submitted that arguments on Shaw’s behalf amoun­t to a regurgitation of what was said at the trial, in spite of which the court had concluded that Shaw was the shooter.

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