Witness rejects fall or punch as reason for Matie's brain injury

2017-03-13 22:15
Advocate William Booth. (Leánne Stander, Netwerk24)

Advocate William Booth. (Leánne Stander, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - A punch or a fall while standing could not have led to the unusual type of brain injury that caused Stellenbosch graduate Carl Schoombie's death, a forensic pathologist told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

But a swinging object or swinging kick with the foot or shin could have because it would have generated much more force, said State witness Gavin Kirk under cross-examination.

Defence lawyer William Booth had tried to suggest to him that there may be more accidental reasons behind diffuse axonal injury.

Diffuse axonal injury is when deep layers of nerve cells in the brain have been disrupted or torn.

Booth had forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow sitting next to him, passing him notes as he spoke.

Kirk had told the court that the injury was usually only seen in people killed in car accidents because of the degree of force associated with those incidents.

'I have never seen it'

Booth said it was dark and rainy on the night of the incident.

An "inebriated" Schoombie could have fallen and cracked his head on large rocks in the cul-de-sac.

A light blow or smack to the face could also have caused him to fall over and hit his head on a hard surface, he added.

Kirk said a person could sustain skull fractures and bruising in that situation but not diffuse axonal injury.

"It is not consistent with a fall from height. It has never been reported in any academic literature. And I have never seen it. It has been reported in falls from considerable heights, from a building."

He ruled out a blow with a fist or elbow as being sufficient to cause that kind of injury.

"To generate [that kind of force] would usually require either a swinging object of some sort or somebody swinging their legs, such as a kick."

Defence on a 'fishing expedition'

Brent Henry and Juane Jacobs are on trial for the murder of Schoombie, who died from severe injuries after the two men accused him of starting trouble at the Tiger Tiger nightclub in November 2015.

Schoombie and three friends were on their way home from a Claremont nightclub when he was dragged from his Uber taxi and beaten. He was admitted to hospital in a coma, where he died a few days later.

Kirk said he had only dealt with one other assault case where diffuse axonal injury was the result.

"It was an assault in a police holding cell. The witness stated that the deceased was kicked in the head several times [while on the ground] by a fellow prisoner."

He could not tell Booth what exactly caused the blunt force injury in Schoombie's case.

Booth said they would request slides of brain tissue.

Judge Robert Henney said the defence never disputed the cause of death. He accused the lawyer of going on "a fishing expedition".

The State closed its case.

The trial will resume on Tuesday.

Read more on:    carl schoombie  |  cape town  |  crime

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