Man acquitted of wife's murder to sue

2015-06-05 07:26
Hilton Shaw

Hilton Shaw (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - A lawsuit by former murder accused Hilton Shaw, who was acquitted by an appeal court of the 2007 murder of his wife, briefly came before the high court on Thursday.

Shaw is suing the KZN Director of Public Prosecutions, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, and the Minister of Police for R9 424 800.

He alleges in court papers that he incurred legal costs of R1 500 000, travel expenses and accommodation costs (including those of his lawyers) totalling R499 800, sustained R3 000 000 in general damages for the suffering he endured as a result of his arrest and trial, lost income to the tune of R4 320 000, incurred medical costs of R5 000 and is likely to incur further medical costs estimated at R100 000.

The latter is said to include treatment for depression and psychotherapy.

The damages claim is being opposed.

It was on the roll on Thursday for a postponement pending further exchanges of documents between the parties.

KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie adjourned the case until July 20 and granted the parties leave to file supplementary affidavits if they wish.

He was informed that a pretrial conference is scheduled to take place during August. It is only then that trial dates will be set.

Shaw’s wife, Susan died of a gunshot wound at an isolated country estate at Lake Lyndhurst, Fort Nottingham, on June 3, 2007. She and her husband were alone at the time.

He was subsequently arrested, charged and convicted of her murder, and was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner in 2009.

However, after petitioning the chief justice for leave to appeal, Shaw succeeded in his appeal and was acquitted of murder by then Judge President of KZN, Chiman Patel, along with Judge Daya Pillay and Judge Graham Lopes.

The three judges found in their judgment that there was a strong possibility that Susan Shaw could have committed suicide.

They however rejected the “other scenario” suggested by Shaw at his trial which was that an intruder may have shot his wife while he was away from the house on his cellphone.

The “gruelling” terrain and difficulty in reaching the homestead made this unlikely the appeal judges said.

In support of his lawsuit for damages against the state, Shaw alleges that the evidence against him was “characterised by significant shortcomings”.

He alleges the prosecution against him was proceeded with malice even though there were no eye witnesses to the shooting and objective forensic evidence indicated he wasn’t responsible for shooting his wife. This included the fact that no primer (gun) residue was found on his hands or clothes, he said.

In replying papers on behalf of the KZN DPP it is stated that primer residue samples were only taken from Shaw’s hands more than two hours after the shooting.

The KZN DPP is also disputing allegations that the investigating officer in the case lied at Shaw’s bail hearing.

Shaw was refused bail on three different occasions, before being granted bail on appeal to the high court. By then he had spent six months in custody awaiting trial

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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