High impact fall killed Williams, court hears

2014-12-15 18:38
Brett Williams

Brett Williams

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Durban - Former Royal Marine Brett Williams died of an "unbroken fall" due to his possibly being drunk, not from an assault, the Durban Regional Court heard on Monday.

Previous forensic evidence that the cause of the Briton's death was a brain haemorrhage was "misguided", specialist forensic pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo testified on behalf of the defence for Blayne Shepard, who is charged with killing Williams.

There were no injuries to his back, or rib fractures, which disputed State evidence that 24-year-old Shepard held on to two people and stomped on Williams, Naidoo said.

He was being led in giving evidence by Christo van Schalkwyk, for Shepard.

Williams died outside Durban's Kings Park Stadium on the night of March 23, 2013, after the Sharks beat the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match.

Shepard was initially one of five friends accused of beating Williams to death, but now remains the only person charged with his murder.

One accused, Grant Cramer, turned State witness, while the three other accused, Andries van der Merwe, Dustin van Wyk, and Shepard's older brother Kyle, were discharged last month.

Naidoo disagreed that the fatal injury was caused by Williams having been kicked, assaulted, and "stomped on" while his head was on the ground.

No matter how heavy the blow to the head, it would not have caused the "brain stem concussion" that killed Williams, he said.

Naidoo said he agreed the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head. He studied photographs of Williams's injuries and examined the post-mortem reports and comments from forensic pathologist Dr Christa Hattingh and general practitioner Dr Ashley Hammond.

He explained that the sudden "deceleration" of the head striking the ground, or an object, killed Williams, and not the pressure of bleeding on the brain or a blood clot after the injury, as the court had previously heard.

If pressure on the brain from bleeding had caused Williams's death he would not have died instantly.

"Blotchy" blueish purple discolouration of skin on Williams' limbs, neck, and face were not due to bruising from assault, but post mortem lividity which occurred when blood ceased to circulate.

Naidoo said although a scuffle or fight may have contributed to the fall, it did not cause the fatal injury.

"It is very, very difficult to find this injury in anything else but deceleration of a fall. A state of drunkenness would indicate a loss of balance and co-ordination, and the inability to break a fall."

Naidoo disputed suggestions by prosecutor Krishen Shah during cross-examination that an imprint on Williams' head was from Shepard's shoe.

He said the imprint was more likely caused by gravel.

The case was postponed to January 28.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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