Dustan Blom died of asphyxiation - forensic pathologist

2015-04-20 15:47
Dustan Blom and his wife Talita (Supplied)

Dustan Blom and his wife Talita (Supplied)

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Johannesburg - A forensic pathologist found that widower Dustan Blom died as a result of asphyxiation, but could not conclude that he had been strangled before his body was found in a car boot at Montecasino, the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

One of the bones around his neck area had also been fractured, said forensic pathologist Shirley Moeng in her evidence in the South Gauteng High Court, where the magistrate's court was sitting.

The first clue was that the tip of his tongue was sticking out of his teeth, said Moeng.

''We tend to find this with asphyxial deaths - hanging, strangulation - when the tongue gets pushed out of the mouth," she said.

Blom's body was found on September 22 by security guards who noticed a foul smell coming from a vehicle parked at Montecasino.

Plot to steal money

He is believed to have been killed on September 18 while sleeping on his couch. There was allegedly a plot to steal money out of his bank account.

Maruschka Robinson was arrested on September 24 and Jean-Pierre Malan on September 26 in connection with the discovery.

Both were in court on Monday, with their ankles chained, sitting far apart from each other in the dock.

The state of Blom's body, when it was found in the boot of a Nissan in the venue's car park, gave some clues as to how he may have died.

Moeng said the 37-year-old was clothed, and a towel with bodily fluids had been found under his body. He had no open wounds.

He was a big man, 1.9m tall, considered obese at 110kg, and had a tattoo near his belly button.

His clothes were soiled with blood stains and body fluids from decomposition.

Decomposition

There was darkening on his face and neck, and purging of fluids from his nose and mouth.

His scalp was not fractured.

Led by prosecutor Zaais van Zyl, Moeng said she found haemolytic staining. This is when blood starts to break down stains and discoloured tissues during decomposition.

His eyes, nose and ears had started decomposing and his thyroid gland was congested.

Damage to the hyoid bone, a bone near the Adam's apple was indicative of pressure applied on that side of the neck.

On Van Zyl's prompting, Moeng explained that in a strangulation, air to the lungs would be cut off.

Ligature marks were found on his neck, but it was difficult to say anything more about that, Moeng said.

His lungs were dark and congested and weighed between 200 and 300 grams more than the usual 400g, a further indicator of asphyxial death.

Blood specimens

Moeng said that if Bloem had survived, he may have had symptomatic heart disease later in his life, especially heart attacks.

The court heard that blood does not flow after death, but oozes.

Blood specimens were taken for analysis.

Lawyer Jesse Penton, for Robinson, asked if Moeng thought that moderate to considerate force had to be used to fracture the hyoid bone.

"Yes," she said.

When Malan's lawyer JP Marais questioned Moeng, the court heard that Malan had claimed to have found a lot of blood around Blom's body and had had to step into it to move him to a couch.

The scene had been cleared, but investigators found a shoe print and bare footprint, presumably through the use of Luminol, a substance than shows blood traces, submitted Marais.

Marais asked Moeng if she had ever heard of a drug called Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB). 

''I know that it is used as a drug of abuse,'' she said.

It may depress the central nervous system and cause amnesia.

''Where the person doesn't remember events around the time they were consuming the drug.''

She agreed that it also occurred naturally in the body.

Robinson has said in a statement that they sometimes doctored Blom's drink with GHB so they could steal his money.

Court adjourned and resumed for testimony by a cellphone expert.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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