Blom a broken man after wife's death, court told

2015-04-15 19:56


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Johannesburg - Dustin Blom, whose body was found in the boot of his car at Montecasino in September 2013, was a broken man following the death of his wife in childbirth, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge heard on Tuesday.

Ryan Pickford, a friend of Blom's since 2001 when they met at work, said the death of Blom's wife in March 2013 when she gave birth to their twin children had left Blom in a broken state. 

Asked by prosecutor Zaais Van Zyl what Blom's daily routine was, Pickford said Blom, after inheriting "a lot of money" following his wife's death, spent a lot of time drinking and partying.

"He [Blom] tried to carry on working, but that dwindled very quickly given the money that he inherited I presume," Pickford told the court.

"For what I understood, Dustin would wake up and spend most of his afternoons at the Dros in Olivedale or he would socialise with new friends. He being broken from what happened to his wife, he quickly started dabbling and spending time with escort women and in [strip] clubs.

"I know he dated a handful of women. Basically, I don't think it was very easy for him and given his situation he spent most of time at a pub drinking a lot."

Asked by Van Zyl if he had met Maruschka Robinson, who with JP Malan is accused of killing Blom, Pickford said he had met her at Blom's home on two occasions, and once with Dustin at the Lollipop Lounge strip club in Randburg.

Blom told Pickford that, between June and July 2013, Robinson had been living at Blom's house for a couple of weeks, and the last time Pickford saw Blom alive was on August 23 2013, when he picked up his keys at a room at Montecasino.

Robinson, Malan and Blom, accompanied by what Pickford thought was an escort, had dinner the night before and after drinking too much, Pickford asked his sister and partner to pick him up.

Blom’s mental state

Prior to Blom's death, he had met a mutual friend of Pickford's who ran a yoga retreat in Bali. Pickford told the court that it appeared the pair had hit it off, with the friend, Tracey, quite concerned about Blom's mental state.

"I know that Tracey was quite concerned about his mental health and they seemed to have quite good chemistry . She was eager to get him to Bali and get him away from the lifestyle that he had been living," Pickford said.

Blom was initially reluctant to go to Bali, but on September 16 2013, he contacted Pickford, whose partner was a travel agent, to book a ticket for him to go to Bali on September 17.

Pickford booked the flight for Blom, and warned him to not tell anyone that he was leaving the country.

"I did say to him on the 16th that 'Don't tell anyone that you are leaving the country'. He asked me why and I said 'You are spending R15, R20 000 a week and you are like a revenue stream to these people," Pickford told the court.

He said the last time he spoke to Blom was on the evening of September 17, with Blom telling him he would come the next day to his partner's travel agency to collect the tickets and refund Pickford the money for them.

Van Zyl asked Pickford if Blom ever arrived, to which he replied: "Never arrived."

He and his partner attempted to contact "multiple mutual friends" who knew Blom to find out where he was, but no-one knew. Those who drank with Blom on a regular basis at the Dros were also very worried, Pickford said.

Pickford said it was not in Blom's character to not arrive to appointments, and he later phoned a policeman, Jacobus Swanevelder, to tell him of Blom's disappearance.

Pickford said that he very worried about Blom and even visited a morgue to see if Blom's body was there. 

"On the Sunday morning, I was on the way to a brunch at my friends' mother's house. I stopped at the Woolworths in Woodmead to get flowers and while my partner ran inside... I phoned accused number one [Robinson] and I very firmly said 'Mariuscka, what is going on? This sounds like a lot of rubbish is going here... where is my friend?'"

‘Extremely nervous’

He asked her to check if Blom was at the house, and after Robinson laid the phone aside for a minute, returned and told Pickford that his clothes were still there.

Pickford said Robinson, who "sounded extremely nervous", told him that she was scared of "certain people" and asked to meet him. He refused to meet her.

Five minutes after arriving at the brunch, Pickford was called by Swanevelder, who said to him that he "may have found his friend".

Pickford drove to Pineslopes Centre in Fourways, and later drove to Montecasino to assist police with the identification of the body.

Following his testimony, both JP Marais for Malan and Jesse Penton for Robinson had no questions for Pickford, who was then excused by Judge Delize Smith.

Van Zyl told Smith that the next witness would take some time to be ready, and asked if it would not be best to continue on Wednesday.

Neither Marais nor Penton had any objections, with Smith adjourning the matter to Wednesday morning.

Earlier, both Robinson and Malan pleaded not guilty to killing Blom and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Robinson did plead guilty to five counts of fraud from using Blom's bank card to draw money, but pleaded not guilty to attempting to defeat the ends of justice in regards to abandoning Blom's body in his car at Monte Casino.

Malan plead guilty to three counts of fraud, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and five counts of being in possession of fake ID documents.

Blom's body was discovered in the boot of his car on September 22 2013 at the popular casino and entertainment venue when security guards investigated a foul smell coming from the car.

Robinson was arrested on September 24 2013, and Malan on September 26 2013.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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