Lawsuit drama in Shaw murder

2016-08-23 10:48
KZN man Hilton Shaw is suing the police after he was arrested and prosecuted for his wife's murder.

KZN man Hilton Shaw is suing the police after he was arrested and prosecuted for his wife's murder. (File)

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The violent death of Susan Shaw on a remote country estate is again under scrutiny in the high court due to a multi-million rand law suit by her husband, Hilton.

He alleges he was maliciously arrested and prosecuted for her murder.

Shaw’s first witness on Monday, a former deputy director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, Jacobus Niehaus SC, said it was his opinion that when Shaw was arrested and charged 11 weeks after his wife’s murder, there was insufficient evidence in the police docket to justify his arrest and prosecution and for the state to oppose bail.

Shaw was refused bail three times, before he was granted bail by the high court.

Susan Shaw was shot dead at Lake Lyndhurst in Fort Nottingham on June 3, 2007 while she and her husband were alone on the estate.

The trial centred around whether Shaw shot his wife, if she was killed by an intruder, or had committed suicide.

On June 15, 2009, Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner found Shaw guilty of his wife’s murder and sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment.

However, two years later, on July 19, 2011, a full bench of the KZN high court consisting of then Judge President Chiman Patel, Graham Lopes and Daya Pillay, upheld his appeal and set aside the verdict and sentence.

While Judge Niles-Duner found it “highly improbable” that Susan committed suicide because she was shot through her right armpit, the full bench disagreed.

Judge Daya Pillay said suicide was a “real possibility” because Susan had twice before taken an overdose of pills, and was in therapy for depression.

Following his acquittal Shaw instituted a R9,4 million damages claim against the state.

Questioning by Shaw’s advocate, Craig Webster SC, in the civil trial on Monday focused on statements and evidence of two state witnesses in the case — Doris Ndlovu and Simon Madladla, both workers at other houses at Lake Lyndhurst estate.

In summary they said they heard a woman screaming, dogs barking, heard gunshots and saw “shadows” moving around the Shaws’ verandah at the time Susan was allegedly shot.

Judge Peter Olsen was told that Shaw will set out to show that the police investigating officer “misled” the bail hearing by falsely claiming there was a strong case against Shaw.

The investigating officer allegedly testified when opposing bail that he had statements from a witness who “heard a woman screaming, dogs barking and saw the accused running up and down the verandah” after a shot was fired, and another who saw Hilton and Susan “chasing each other up and down the verandah” before Hilton sped off in a vehicle.

Advocate Niehaus said he could find no evidence to support this claim in the police docket.

He said it is the duty of the prosecutor to bring misleading evidence to the attention of the court.

Pingla Hemraj SC, for the state, in cross examination pointed to the evidence of a member of the Crime Intelligence Unit who said when police got to the scene of the shooting they found Shaw “highly inebriated” and that there was evidence the scene had been “tampered with”.

This included blood on a sheet and pillow concealed under a duvet and chairs that were “well placed” to cover blood spots on the floor of the bar where Susan had been seated.

There was also a suggestion that an attempt was made to “wipe blood” off a carpet.

Hemraj suggested to Niehaus that this and other evidence, which was not challenged by the defence, created “reasonable suspicion” against Shaw.

The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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