Fred's shoe 'not linked to murder scene'

Cape Town - Contrary to the claims of a police investigator, there was no way Fred van der Vyver's shoe could be linked to a murder-scene bloodstain, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Van der Vyver is suing the minister of police for R46m for malicious prosecution, following his acquittal on a charge of murdering his girlfriend Inge Lotz in her Stellenbosch flat in March 2005.

Bill Bodziak, a former United States FBI agent and world-renowned forensic footwear impression expert, took the stand on Monday to describe his interactions with SA police investigator Superintendent Bruce Bartholomew, who flew to Florida in June 2006 to consult him about the Lotz case.

Though he had told Bartholomew to bring scaled photographs and the most detailed evidence he could, Bartholomew brought only a few small photographs, with poor detail and no scale.

A CD the investigator brought, supposedly containing more images, would not open on Bodziak's computer.

Bodziak said it had been clear from the consultation that Van der Vyver's Hi-Tec sports shoe could not have produced the bloody mark police discovered on the floor of Lotz's bathroom.

Not enough detail

There was nothing in the stain that fitted the pattern on the sole of Van der Vyver's shoe, and there was in fact not enough detail to say it was even produced by a shoe.

Bodziak told the court that three small white dots in the stain that Bartholomew linked to grains of sand in a groove in the shoe were more likely to have been produced by the police forensics team wiping excess Amido Black, a staining agent, off the bloodstain instead of rinsing it off as protocol demanded.

On close examination it became clear that there were well over a hundred grains of sand in the groove, and it was not clear how Bartholomew had chosen those three - later adding a fourth - to match the white dots on the stain.

If the sand had had blood on it, it would have made red dots on the tiled bathroom floor, not white ones.

Bodziak said the sand was sitting some 5mm deep in the groove.

Using Van der Vyver's left shoe, the one without sand in it, he and Bartholomew had been unable, even by stamping hard, to make a print that got anywhere near the depth where the sand was lodged.

Bartholomew had appeared "very concerned" after the failure of this test.

Commenting on Bartholomew's report to his superiors that Bodziak had "confirmed the identification of the murder scene shoe print", Bodziak said he had in fact advised Bartholomew there "could be no identification".

He had also explained this to the prosecutors in Van der Vyver's criminal trial, when they phoned him to discuss the bloodstain.

"They stated they were shocked to hear this," he said.

Bodziak, who testified for the prosecution at the murder trial of American football star OJ Simpson, also gave evidence for the defence in Van der Vyver's trial.
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