Lorrie Wilmot guilty of rape

2003-03-18 09:46

Grahamstown - Former provincial cricketer Lorrie Wilmot was convicted in the regional court here on Monday of raping a 13-year-old girl in August 1998.

The case came full circle back to the regional court after a four-year "trip" through the High Court here and then the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Wilmot was initially convicted in March 2000 of raping the girl.

Regional court magistrate Mzonke Dunywa sentenced him to 12 years in prison, three of which were suspended for five years.

Wilmot appealed to the High Court here but, in November 2000, a full Bench of the court confirmed both the conviction and sentence.

Wilmot then took the matter to the Appeal Court where he sought to have new evidence introduced. In an unusual move, this court set aside his conviction and sentence and sent the matter back to the regional court for it to hear the new evidence.

Evidence was introduced by two women that the young rape victim had subsequently claimed to them that it had not been Wilmot who raped her, but another man.

'Hopeless witnesses'

Wilmot's counsel also argued that the young victim's credibility had been found wanting in two subsequent cases in which she had claimed to be raped and that her credibility in the case against Wilmot had to be considered in this light.

But Dunywa said on Monday he had not been persuaded by the new evidence. He said the two young women who had given evidence for Wilmot had been "hopeless witnesses" and their evidence contradictory in a way that "stigmatised" it as "a pack of lies".

Both had grown up on Wilmot's farm and relied on him for employment.

"Clearly the two witnesses gave evidence that was fabricated with the intention to save their former employer."

He said nothing had changed his view that the complainant had been a consistent and credible witness, who had not changed her story under cross examination.

The only person who could have denied the prima facie evidence that he had raped the child had been Wilmot himself, and he had chosen not to give evidence in his own defence.

Wilmot, dressed in blue pants and blue casual shirt, remained expressionless while the judgment was read out.

Dunywa extended Wilmot's bail after advocate Terry Price indicated he needed time to prepare for argument in mitigation of sentence.

Although Wilmot gave no indication of what he intended to do after sentencing, it is possible that he may, again, follow a similar appeal route.