Evidence in marine murder case 'does not back conviction'

2015-03-26 20:56


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Durban - Poor witness testimony and medical evidence that contradicted testimony should not be used to convict the man accused of beating a former Royal Marine to death, the Durban Regional Court heard on Thursday.

Advocate Christo van Schalkwyk told the court none of the State witnesses had seen his client's stomping feet strike Brett Williams.

Van Schalkwyk was giving his closing argument in the trial of Blayne Shepard, who is accused of beating Williams to death outside Durban's Kings Park Stadium on the night of 23 March 2013, after the Sharks played the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match.

"Had there been constant stomping, there must have been a mark [on Williams' body]. There was nothing," he said.

During the trial last year, several witnesses claimed there had been stomping and punching as a group overwhelmed security guards and assaulted Williams.

Shepard was initially charged with three others of killing Williams. A fifth, Grant Cramer, was initially charged with assault, but turned State witness.

The case against Andries van der Merwe, Dustin van Wyk, and Shepard's older brother Kyle was discharged in December.

They had each faced a charge of murder, three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of crimen injuria, and one of public violence.

Magistrate Trevor Levitt ruled "uneasily" that the evidence against the three did not reach the required standards for a prima facie case against them, but that Shepard still had a case to answer.

Poor witness testimony

Van Schalkwyk said on Thursday the poor witness testimony had failed to implicate Shepard. In that instance the prosecution could only rely on medical evidence.

"The only safe haven is the medical evidence. There's nothing on the torso."

During the trial it was heard that Williams had a blunt trauma head injury, which could have been caused by a fall.

A number of witnesses said they had seen Williams falling. Cramer's then girlfriend Kirsten Cooper said in a police statement she had seen Williams' head strike a trailer.

Van Schalkwyk said it was disturbing that key evidence was not available. He lamented the lack of closed circuit television footage as well as the disappearance of the trailer against which Williams allegedly fell, and which was seen in photographs.

He said it was disturbing that a sample of blood taken from Williams disappeared after being sent to a forensic laboratory in Pretoria.

"This was an incident that was so gross, so extraordinary that it required all the original evidence," he said.

Prosecutor Krishen Shah urged Levitt to find Shepard guilty of culpable homicide, alternatively assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Levit will deliver his judgment on 29 June.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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