I loved my wife, says murder accused Shaw

2008-11-24 00:00

Asked if he killed his wife, Susan, in June 2007, high court murder accused Hilton Shaw (58) declared yesterday: “Certainly not, I loved my wife.”

Shaw told Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner and an assessor that he and his wife did not have an “acrimonious or abusive” relationship as suggested by the state’s indictment.

Moments before he left her alone in the house to drive to a spot where he could get a cellphone signal, she hugged and kissed him and said she loved him very much, he testified.

Earlier yesterday the judge refused a defence application for Shaw’s discharge at the end of the state case based on submissions that there wasn’t a “snippet of evidence” requiring that Shaw be placed on his defence.

Shaw said on the day of the incident his wife was still upset and deeply stressed after a row two days earlier with her former mother-in-law and a discussion with one of her two sons — aged 17 and 14.

He told Susan she would have his blessing if she decided to go and stay in town near her children, and they would see each other at weekends.

“She said she wasn’t going anywhere without me,” he said.

Shaw said when he first found his wife lying on the verandah of their remote home at Lake Lyndhurst near Fort Nottingham and saw her bullet wound he “jumped to the assumption” that she had killed herself, but he doesn’t think that anymore.

Shaw said his wife — who also suffered from epilepsy and was under psychiatric treatment — had attempted to kill herself twice by overdosing on medication.

He said he initially did not think she could have been attacked by an intruder, because he saw nobody else about and they had never before had any “confrontations” with anyone “while in residence”. Before they moved to the farm in 2004, there had been numerous break-ins, he said.

He said he had trained Susan in the use of his firearm, which he left with her when she stayed alone on the estate. He had last seen the firearm with which she was shot, the day before when he left her locked in her room reading in bed while he went to Nottingham Road. He didn’t know if she returned the weapon to the safe.

Shaw dismissed as “pure fabrication” the evidence of a domestic worker, Doris Ndlovu, who said that on the day of his wife’s death she saw him leave the house soon after she heard a gunshot.

Shaw said he also could not remember their two dogs — a Boerboel and a Staffie cross Jack Russell — “being around” when he found Susan’s body.

Ndlovu said she heard the dogs barking before the gunshot and later saw Shaw “quieten” them.

Shaw described the dogs as “quite friendly” and said they “would have barked if Susan was in distress and would have followed somebody off the property if there had been somebody there”.

Shaw said when he found his wife he thought she was “barely alive”.

“I remember holding her and kissing her and asking her what she had done.”

He said that after driving to telephone a friend to call for an air ambulance and the police, he returned and knelt next to his wife “not sure if she was dead”.

“I thought I could feel her breath against my cheek and then I couldn’t feel it anymore. I tried to take her pulse but I was shaking too much myself,” he said.

The case is proceeding.

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