We had intruder plan, says Shaw

2008-11-25 00:00

Murder accused Hilton Shaw (58) and his late wife Susan had formulated a plan about how to react if an intruder entered their home at the isolated Lake Lyndhurst estate, the Pietermaritzburg High Court heard yesterday.

Shaw told Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner and an assessor that the couple’s plan if confronted by a stranger was for Susan to lock herself into the bathroom. This was because he wanted to know where she would be at all times and he didn’t want her to follow him, he said. “In the early days, I would leave a shotgun in the bathroom at night, but as time went on the shotgun stayed in the safe,” he said.

The day before the shooting, when he’d left his wife alone reading in bed, he had fetched his firearm and placed it under clothing in a cupboard for her. She locked the door. That was the last time he saw the gun before the shooting.

The court has heard testimony that Susan Shaw was shot with her husband’s firearm on June 3 while “leaning or being pushed” against the bathroom door adjoining the main bedroom. She was wounded in the right shoulder and bled to death. The gun was found lying on the floor in the vicinity.

Shaw testified that when he saw his wife’s bullet wound he immediately assumed she’d tried to kill herself. “I didn’t take into account that there could possibly be a third person at that stage ...”

“Didn’t it even occur to you to look and see whether anyone was fleeing?” state advocate Dorian Paver asked him during cross- examination. Shaw responded that he was focused on his wife’s condition and said the thought of a possible intruder did not occur to him “till some days later”.

Shaw said he disputes the evidence of the investigating officer, Inspector Jabulani Mchunu, that the first time the version of an intruder was raised was last week at the start of Shaw’s trial.

“That’s been one of the versions contemplated right from the beginning,” responded Shaw.

Paver suggested to him that an intruder “had to have gone to a good deal of trouble” to reach the remote homestead, shoot his wife (while he was away for 15 minutes using his cellphone) and flee the scene, leaving behind the murder weapon, three firearms in the safe and other goods such as Susan Shaw’s handbag and diamond jewellery.

Shaw told the court that despite post-mortem findings that his wife’s blood alcohol content was extremely high when she died, he did not think she was inebriated when he left her; nor did he see her drink excessively that day. He said he was always alert to signs of inebriation because of her epilepsy.

He maintains she “hugged and kissed” him before he left.

The case is proceeding.

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