Blood clot caused death of marine, court hears

2014-10-30 21:40

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Durban - Violent shaking sheared small blood vessels in the brain of former Royal Marine Brett Williams and caused a blood clot that killed him, the Durban Regional Court heard on Thursday.

"His head must have been shaken around violently. It was probably a violent and sudden shaking of the head that caused it," Dr Ashley Hammond said.

He was testifying in the case of four men accused of beating Williams to death after a Super XV rugby match last year and conducted the autopsy on 28 March, five days after the assault.

Hammond told the court he found two incidents of bleeding in the left temple area of Williams's brain and a blood clot in the ventricles.

"It's a space right in the centre of the brain."

He said while the bleeding in the temple area - identified as subdural and subarachnoid bleeding - could have led to Williams's death, he believed it was the blood clot in the ventricles that would have caused his death within 25 to 30 minutes of forming.

He said the "shearing or rupturing of the small blood vessels" would have led to the clot forming. There was no indication that Williams had any other injuries to his head and his skull was not fractured.

Williams had abrasions on his knees and elbows, but there were no injuries to his torso. His kidneys, liver, spleen and ribs were all intact.

Blayne Shepard, 23, his brother Kyle, 25, along with Andries van der Merwe, 23, and Dustin van Wyk, 23, each face a charge of murder, three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria.

They are accused of beating Williams to death outside Kings Park stadium on the night of 23 March last year, after the Sharks beat the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match.

Prior to the final attack, Williams had been in fight with Grant Cramer, a friend of Blayne Shepard. During that scuffle Cramer held Williams in a choke hold before dropping him to the tar unconscious.

Hammond said when he examined Williams's body there was evidence of cyanosis to the neck and head.

"He was probably held around the neck," said Hammond, but he did not believe this had anything to do with Williams's death.

Cyanosis is the appearance of blue or purple colouration to the skin, from a lack of oxygen.

"The cause of death is a head injury," said Hammond.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    brett williams  |  durban  |  crime

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