What was Croeser's motive

2011-10-26 00:00

THE prosecution has urged high court Judge Esther Steyn to find local policeman Morné Croeser guilty of the premeditated murder of his wife, Erika, on August 28 last year.

However, the defence submitted that the state has not provided a motive for Croeser to have done so, despite his admitted affair with another woman.

In written heads of argument referred to during oral submissions before Judge Steyn and her assessor in Scottburgh, Croeser’s advocate Murray Pitman submitted that Croeser’s version that he loved his wife and not his mistress, Ruth Sinclair, was not gainsaid.

“Common experience, despite how much we may resent it, tells us that this is reasonably possible. That some men have mistresses and never leave their wives is well known,” he argued.

Pitman also rejected state advocate Irene Neyt’s submission that Croeser killed his wife so that she could not take his children from him.

Neyt said Croeser admitted that if Erika did divorce him he would be financially unstable and she would get custody of the children.

Pitman countered that this had to be based on a proposition that a divorce was in the air, but said there was no supporting evidence.

He submitted further that the Croesers appeared to be working on their marriage, despite his continued contact with Sinclair.

Pitman submitted that the court could not exclude Croeser’s version that he and his wife were attacked by intruder as a reasonable possibility based on objective facts.

Neyt countered that the only reasonable inference based on circumstantial evidence was that Croeser planned to and did kill his wife by stabbing her multiple times at their Albert Falls home.

Thereafter he stabbed himself in the abdomen with the same knife to divert suspicion from himself, Neyt submitted

She said the evidence proved the couple had a volatile marriage in which Croeser physically and verbally abused his wife.

Neyt said he threatened to kill his wife and anyone who took his children from him; and that he had staged attempted break-ins at their home on August 24 and 25 in order to set the scene to mislead an investigation into her later murder.

She argued in court that even if Croeser had not planned the specific date for the murder, he had laid a basis to commit the offence “at an opportune moment”, which presented itself that night.

Several facts supported the argument that he planned the murder, and among these were: that it was arranged the children would not be home that evening; that Croeser had enough time before fetching his wife to stage a break-in; that he left his firearm under the mattress even though evidence revealed he always carried it with him; and that he had been “unusually attentive” to his wife at Amble Inn in order to make people believe he would not have a motive to kill her.

Judgment will be delivered on January 16 next year.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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