Not guilty plea for Royal Marine death

2014-03-11 00:00

THE four men charged with beating to death former Royal Marine Brett Williams after a rugby match in 2013 pleaded not guilty in the Durban Regional Court yesterday.

Brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk are facing charges of murder, three charges of assault, a charge of public violence and one of crimen injuria.

There was a halt to the court proceedings yesterday when the magistrate, the prosecution team and the accused’s lawyers visited the scene of the alleged crime. When the matter resumed Grant Cramer, a friend of the accused, took the stand.

Charges against Cramer, were dropped last year because of a lack of evidence linking him to the crime. He had faced one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Yesterday, Cramer told the court that on the day of the incident he and his friends were involved in an altercation with the deceased.

“On the day in question we left in Jessica’s car for the stadium. We later went to a bar in Umgeni Road and we had drinks. The deceased saw me arguing with my girlfriend [Jessica] and asked me what the problem was, and I told him to get lost. He used vulgar language against us,” said Cramer. Williams allegedly punched Cramer, but missed when he took a second swing at him. “He kept on coming for me and I grabbed him in a neck-lock for a while until he stopped resisting,” he testified.

It had been previously reported that paramedics revived Williams, but the other four allegedly kicked and punched him later. Williams was declared dead at the scene.

The court heard yesterday that a security guard was allegedly called a k****r during the fight. This led to the crimen injuria charge. The four men are out on bail of R5 000 each.

Williams’s fiancée, Louise Scott, watched the proceedings from the public gallery. The couple had lived in Taunton in the county of Somerset in south-west England. They have a four-year-old daughter, Leila. Scott, speaking outside the court, said she flew out from England on Saturday to attend the trial. “If it drags [on for] longer than the five days, then I’ll leave on Saturday. This is a difficult time for us and our baby,” she said.

Christo van Schalkwyk, acting on behalf of the Shepard brothers, told the court yesterday that there was a “lack of objective, unbiased, constitutional, investigative process”, specifically with respect to the failure to collect, preserve and test tissue and blood samples at Williams’s post mortem.

The trial continues today with Cramer expected to be cross-examined.

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