Rugby attack witness asked to 'get story straight'

2014-03-10 20:48

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Durban - A State witness refused to meet up with his best friend to get their "story straight" over the fatal beating of a former Royal Marine, the Durban Regional Court heard on Monday.

Grant Cramer told the court the morning after Brett Williams died in a brawl with his friends, one of the accused - Blayne Shepard - called him up.

"He asked me to come over [to his house] so we could get our story straight. I told him no. I wasn't involved. He said I was involved and I got very upset."

Cramer earlier told the court he and Shepard had been the best of friends and were gym partners.

Events began to unravel when his girlfriend and Shepard started trading insults after the match between the Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels at Kings Park on 23 March 2013.

Shepard, along with his younger brother Kyle, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk are accused of killing Williams.

Apart from a charge of murder, the four also face three charges of assault, one of crimen injuria, and one of public violence.

It emerged during the reading of the charges that one of the security guards claimed to have been called "a kaffir", and that this had led to the crimen injuria charge.

The four men are out on bail of R5 000 each. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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.

Cramer told the court that he and Williams had twice had an altercation during the night, after Williams had allegedly sworn at his girlfriend.

After he had seen paramedics attend to Williams, he saw Williams throw a punch at Kyle Shepard.

He said he heard Williams call the younger Shepard "a fucking faggot". This was then followed by a punch.

It was then that a brawl broke out as the older Shepard and the other two accused joined the fight.

Cramer said at one stage he found himself holding Kyle Shepard in a bid to prevent him getting involved in the fight.

Cross-examination

After his conversation with Blayne Shepard, he reported his involvement to the police a few days later, after which he was later charged.

Williams is expected to be cross-examined on Tuesday.

Williams's fiancée Louise Scott watched the proceedings from the public gallery.

Before proceedings started, a tearful Scott, who was accompanied by an unknown friend, sat outside the courtroom watching the four men chat with their family, friends and lawyers.

She entered the public gallery and sat at the back of the courtroom with her head bowed.

Christo van Schalkwyk, for the Shepard brothers, told Magistrate Trevor Levitt there was "a lack of objective, unbiased, constitutional, investigative process".

He told the court he would argue that the State had failed to preserve and test blood tissue from William's post mortem. The State should have photographically recorded the post mortem and there were concerns about how it was conducted.

He would contest the holding of an identity parade after his clients' identities had been made public.

He said he would also make an issue about the lack of investigation of a previous alleged assault on Williams, and the effect this might have had on him.

At their appearance in June 2013, prosecutor Krishen Shah said Williams allegedly had an altercation with Cramer outside the stadium on the night of 23 March.

Cramer had a choke-hold on Williams and he lost consciousness, Shah told the court. Paramedics revived him, but the other four allegedly kicked and punched him in a second altercation later.

Paramedics were unable to revive Williams again, and he was declared dead at the scene.

Williams and Scott, who lived in Taunton in the county of Somerset in south-west England, have a daughter.

Scott flew out from England over the weekend to attend the trial.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    durban  |  crime
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