Magistrate airs suspicions over police probe into pilot’s shooting

2011-03-08 00:00

TONGAAT — Police Warrant Officer Omesh Tewari, charged with the murder of pilot James Taylor (43), who was shot dead outside Tongaat police station seven years ago, admitted in the high court yesterday that his finger could have been in the trigger guard of his pistol when he and Taylor struggled for it.

He said the fatal shot went off because he was holding the grip of the pistol while Taylor was pulling its barrel.

Advocate Cameron Hunt SC, acting for Brigette Delport, mother of her and Taylor’s 10-year-old daughter Riley, said it would have been safer if Tewari, an experienced officer, did not have his finger in the trigger guard.

Earlier evidence was that Taylor was shot dead after he went to the police station to report an assault on him by off-duty plainclothes policemen at the Sea Belle restaurant after midnight on September 19, 2004.

Getting the case into court sooner has been hampered by attempts to frustrate the investigation.

This was disclosed by inquest magistrate Ruby Poobalan, who said there had been an attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

She said that an attempt by senior members of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to influence the investigation by its own investigators left a suspicion of its involvement in an attempt to jeopardise the investigation.

She said that the investigation was poor and there was gross dereliction of duties by members of the investigating team.

Tewari told the court yesterday that he was at the charge office when Taylor drove up fast and parked near Tewari’s vehicle.He thought that Taylor needed something urgently and he asked if he could help him.

Tewari said, “He walked up fast and said he had been assaulted by policemen and was going to kill me. He slapped me with his right hand across my left cheek. I fell down. He pulled on the strap of my automatic rifle and then pulled my pistol from its holster on my left side. I grabbed at it and as we struggled the shot went off.”

He said he was taken to the Victoria Hospital where a doctor found a bruise on his shoulder. He said he told the doctor about his bruised cheek.

Hunt said the doctor had said that he did not mention it.

The case continues today.

— Own Correspondent

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