State opposes support claim for child of man shot by police

2010-06-08 00:00

A HIGH court bid to obtain financial security for a 10-year-old girl whose father was shot dead in suspicious circumstances by a policeman at Tongaat police station in 2004 has been delayed by the state’s decision to oppose a damages claim lodged on her behalf.

Attempts to settle the matter have fallen through and the case, which was due to be heard this week, will be entered on the roll at a later date.

Attorneys acting on behalf of the child’s mother have asked for preferential trial dates to minimise the prejudice to the child.

The little girl’s father, pilot James Taylor (43), was shot dead during a scuffle at the Tongaat police station on the night of September 19, 2004, after he had allegedly gone there to report an assault on him at the Sea Belle restaurant at La Mercy.

An inquest magistrate, Ruby Poobalan, ruled in October 2009 that Tongaat policeman Inspector Omesh Tewari, who allegedly pulled the trigger killing Taylor, was liable for prosecution.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has since given instructions that Tewari be tried for murder, and the criminal trial is still pending.

Brigette Delport, the mother of the girl, Riley Taylor — who was just four years old when she was deprived of her father’s financial support — said yesterday she is depressed by the attitude adopted by the state.

She is battling to make ends meet to provide for her and Taylor’s child, she added.

Although the couple’s common-law marital relationship ended a few months before his death, Taylor was paying monthly maintenance of about R6 500, she said.

He paid for Riley’s schooling, medical costs and rent for mother and child as well as for his daughter’s general upkeep, according to documents before the high court.

The decision by the minister of Police to fight the civil claim for damages will result in a further protracted legal battle with high cost implications.

The claim is for R6 528 000 plus interest, but when the case goes to trial the court will first be asked to decide whether the state is liable to pay before dealing with the amount.

The case is based on the allegation that Taylor’s shooting at the hands of the police was “unlawful, intentional alternatively negligent”, and resulted in Riley being deprived of her father’s financial support.

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