Microlight pilot shot at close range

2008-04-03 00:00

Top ballistic experts were called to testify in an inquest into the death of James Taylor, one of the country’s top microlight pilots, who was allegedly shot by a policeman.

At the time of his death in September 2004, there were conflicting reports about the circumstances surrounding his death. Police told his family that Taylor was killed outside the Tongaat Police Station.

It is believed that Taylor went to the police station to report being assaulted earlier by two men at the Sea Belle Hotel in La Mercy.

At the police station, there was an argument and a shot was fired. Taylor died at the scene.

The matter was then handed to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), which launched an investigation into his death.

Yesterday, when the inquest resumed at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, Cape Town specialist forensic pathologist Dr Gavin Kirk explained the results of Taylor’s postmortem to magistrate Ruby Poobalan.

Kirk said Taylor had a near-range gunshot wound to the neck and multiple abrasions and contusions to the body. He said the wound was consistent with a near entry wound and said he was in a standing position when the shot was fired: "the gun’s barrel was five centimetres from the head when it was fired".

Another ballistics expert, Captain Renier van der Sandt, told the court it was clear that the firearm was held above Taylor’s head when it was fired.

"The muzzle was not further than five centimetres from the deceased’s head. The blood pattern was consistent with this," said Van der Sandt.

He said that it was unlikely that buttons and a holster strap found at the scene came off during the struggle between Taylor and the shooter. The buttons and holster are believed to belong to the shooter.

"I don’t think there was a struggle before the shot went off. The buttons were lying on top of the blood and were not covered in blood," he said.

The inquest was adjourned to May 20.

sharlenep@witness.co.za

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