Woman: I killed husband in 1997

2007-12-07 00:00

A 42-year-old former top athlete and mother of two, who has confessed after 10 years that she murdered her husband in 1997, told a high court judge yesterday she has been plagued by guilt for a decade.

Her confession was sparked by an incident when she was robbed and assaulted in Port Elizabeth this year, the court heard.

“It was a very traumatic 10 years. I was never happy … Whenever something bad happened I thought it was happening to punish me,” Afrikaans-speaking Heidi McIntosh told high court Judge Chris Nicholson.

She is to be sentenced on December 11. Her lawyer, Johan du Toit, has urged the court to consider imposing a sentence of correctional supervision on her.

McIntosh, who currently has no fixed address, pleaded guilty to having shot and killed her third husband, William Ernest McIntosh, with a shotgun as he lay sleeping on January 17, 1997 at their home in Korhaan Street, Aviary Hill in Newcastle.

Her report that he committed suicide was accepted until she confessed to the murder on August 10 this year before a magistrate in Port Elizabeth.

McIntosh said after she was attacked, she felt a need to seek God’s forgiveness and to “put my life back on track”.

McIntosh gave evidence in a composed manner, displaying no visible emotion.

She testified that her late husband — whom she married for love in 1989 — refused to grant her a divorce when the marriage turned sour. She said he threatened to kill her and the children and to commit suicide if she left him. He once tried to take his own life by taking an overdose.

This caused her to attempt a reconciliation, but it failed.

McIntosh said the marriage floundered when she realised he was a racist.

McIntosh said her late husband, then a supervisor for Eskom, hankered after the days when he was called “baas” by black workers, swore at and behaved aggressively towards people of colour and could not abide the fact that she participated in sport events side by side with people from other race groups.

He even physically dragged her out of races if he saw, for example, a black person hand her a water bottle.

The couple moved from Kempton Park to Newcastle in the belief it was “more white”, but instead this proved “a nightmare” for her husband as he had to work in a black township and fell victim to death threats by black workers. He became more aggressive and suffered from depression.

In her unhappiness, McIntosh embarked on an affair with Gary Coetzee, a fellow athlete and member of her club, Newcastle Harriers Athletics Club. The affair ended before the murder, she said.

McIntosh said that when William McIntosh found out about the relationship, he vowed he would not divorce her or allow her to take the children from him. He also threatened — and once tried — to shoot Coetzee, she said.

McIntosh said the night of the shooting she and her husband fought bitterly and he again threatened to kill the entire family. She was afraid he would carry out his threats.

She drank a glass of wine, along with anti-depressant medication and a sleeping tablet. She felt deeply depressed and helpless to protect her children.

“After 11 [pm], I woke up. I was still very upset … I went to see if the children were alright. Although I saw that they were safe, I was still afraid the deceased would carry out his threats.

“I went to the gun safe and got the shotgun. I loaded it. I then went to the deceased and I shot him. Then I went to my neighbour and told him that the deceased had committed suicide,” McIntosh said.

Under cross examination by state advocate Andre Ludick, McIntosh said she could not recall exactly what went through her mind.

“I was emotional … scared … It felt it was not really happening to me,” she said.

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