Blood sample of motorist in cyclists' death case taken too late - court hears

2018-01-18 19:10
The car which had smashed into the cyclists. (Photos supplied by Garrith Jamieson, Rescuecare)

The car which had smashed into the cyclists. (Photos supplied by Garrith Jamieson, Rescuecare)

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Durban - A blood sample, which would have determined whether or not motorist Omesh Ramnarain was drunk when he crashed into two cyclists, killing both, was only taken after the legal two-hour "window period".

According to the investigating officer in the matter, Constable Nokuthula Mtolo, this was because there was no doctor available at Addington Hospital to do the blood test.

Ramnarain is standing trial before Durban Regional Court Magistrate Anand Maharaj on two charges of culpable homicide and one of drunk driving relating to the accident at about 05:00 on February 7, 2016.

It resulted in the deaths of Richard da Silva and Jarred Dwyer.

The pair was part of a group of cyclists heading north from Durban on the M4. They were at the back of the group when Ramnarain crashed into them, allegedly at high speed, in his black Golf GTI.

Their bodies were flung some metres up the road.

Ramnarain has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He claims he only had four cider drinks at a local club that evening. He also denies negligence and says he did not see the two cyclists at all.

Several witnesses have testified that they smelt alcohol on Ramnarain's breath and saw him walking unsteadily at the scene.

Moderately drunk

The doctor who performed the test described him as "moderately drunk".

But it has been suggested by his advocate Murray Pitman, that any sign of slurred speech or unsteadiness could be put down to the fact that he was crying and in shock.

In her evidence on Thursday, Mtolo said when she arrived on the scene, Ramnarain had been sitting in a vehicle with his parents on the other side of the freeway.

"When he came out of the vehicle he was unsteady, not walking straight. He was smelling of liquor.

"When I took him to Addington there was no doctor available. We waited close to an hour."

It is common cause that the blood sample was taken at 07:40, about two and a half hours after the accident and is thus inadmissible as evidence.

Mtolo conceded under cross examination that Ramnarain appeared shocked, was shaking and crying and his behaviour "could be because he was emotional".

The State closed its case and the trial has been postponed to March for the defence to try to locate other witnesses to the accident.

Ramnarain is expected to give evidence.

Read more on:    durban  |  accidents

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