No gunshot residue on Shaw, doesn’t prove he didn’t shoot

2008-11-20 00:00

The fact that gunshot residue was not found on the clothing or hands of murder accused Hilton Shaw (57) would not necessarily mean that he had not fired a shot.

This emerged in evidence given before Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner and an assessor at Hilton Shaw’s trial yesterday by a private ballistics expert, Kobus Steyl, who gave evidence for the state.

Responding to questions by Shaw’s advocate, Shane Matthews, Steyl agreed that one would have expected to find residue on the shooter’s hands or clothing, but he added there are many factors that play a vital role.

The most important is that a sample has to be taken within at least one hour of the shot being fired.

The fact that residue was not present, therefore, did not mean 100% that the person concerned was not the shooter, he confirmed.

He said washing one’s hands after firing would also remove the residue.

Matthews also taxed Steyl on his opinion that the “scenario” surrounding the shooting of Susan Shaw was not consistent with a “typical suicide”.

Steyl confirmed that although he could not exclude the possibility that Susan Shaw shot herself, he believed the circumstances and manner in which she was shot made it “unlikely”.

He testified that the shot was fired in the bathroom adjacent to the main bedroom and that Shaw would have been leaning against the door. The shot entered her right shoulder.

The firearm dropped to the floor and lay in the doorway in a cocked position, ready to fire again.

Shaw has pleaded not guilty to the charge that he murdered his wife at their remote country home at Lake Lyndhurst near Fort Nottingham on June 3 last year.

He maintained in a statement handed to court that he believes his wife may have been killed by an intruder, while he had left the home for between 10 and 15 minutes to drive to a spot 300 to 400 metres away where he could receive a cellphone signal.

He said that when he first saw his wife lying on the verandah, his impression was that she’d had an epileptic fit.

Later in his statement he said he assumed she had committed suicide and looked for his 9 mm pistol in the safe.

He stated that he had observed the gun lying on the floor of the main bedroom and that he saw a trail of blood leading to the lounge and verandah.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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