Case dropped against SA businessman accused of killing girlfriend in Mauritius

By admin
12 April 2016

Peter Wayne Roberts has been acquitted of manslaughter in connection with his girlfriend's death in Mauritius‚ his attorney confirmed on Tuesday.

The SA millionaire was charged with manslaughter after his on-off girlfriend of three years Lee Ann Palmarozza (35) was found dead in a pool at a resort in Mauritius in December 2014.

Roberts (41), who had been detained on the island since Lee Ann's death, was free to go after seven out nine jurors acquitted him of manslaughter on Tuesday.

One of his lawyers‚ Marco Martini‚ said Roberts "walked straight out of court after the decision".

"There were some very negative and adverse things reported about him and he has now been vindicated by the court‚" he said.

Roberts was arrested at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport on 2 January after telling Mauritian police he was leaving only on 12 January 2015, according to a local newspaper.

Police didn’t initially arrest him and asked him only to remain in the country for questioning.

The wealthy businessman, who reportedly has a villa at the resort on the island, complete with butler, private chef, helicopter and boat, found Lee Ann’s body in the pool. He told police he’d gone to take a shower then went searching for her afterwards when he couldn’t find her, and discovered her body floating in the pool.

Ashley Victor‚ Public Relations Officer for the island's Director of Public Prosecutions‚ said during Roberts' trial last month that the prosecution had CCTV footage showing Roberts and Lee Ann fighting, and that she had slapped him in public.

Roberts had maintained that Lee Ann, who was mom to eight-year-old daughter Danté, drowned while he went back to his room.

An autopsy found she’d died of asphyxiation, and had bruises to the head and throat and had suffered internal bleeding. At the time, Roberts attributed these to her falling when they’d danced earlier that night.

Lee Ann’s mom, Santa, and stepfather, Jack Haye. PHOTO: Luba Lesolle Lee Ann’s mom, Santa, and stepfather, Jack Haye, when they spoke to YOU last year. PHOTO: Luba Lesolle

Speaking to YOU in Januray 2015, Lee Ann's mother Santa Haye (52) said Lee Ann had joined Roberts on his Mauritius trip on Boxing Day in 2014 to end their relationship.

According to Lee Ann's stepfather, Jack Haye (51) Roberts often went on business trips for weeks on end and went on holiday alone. Lee Ann was unhappy about it, Jack says. “She wanted more out of the relationship. That came from her mouth.

“She was alone in the big mansion every day. He told her he was a businessman and she had to understand. I don’t know if there was a fight at that stage.”

They got a call from Roberts at 2.30 am on 30 December 2015. He said Lee Ann had drowned.

Santa had a panic attack when she heard the news. “He told me there was a big accident. He sounded very calm. I thought maybe she was hurt and I asked him what was wrong. He said Lee Ann had drowned and they’d tried to revive her for 45 minutes.”

Two hours earlier they’d woken to calm Danté down, Santa recalls. “She jumped up and grabbed the blanket and shouted, ‘No, no, don’t.’ It was as if her mother had connected with her at that very moment.”

Lee Ann and her daughter, Danté, were inseparable. PHOTO: Supplied Lee Ann and her daughter, Danté, were inseparable. The little girl's father, Greg Bouca, drowned when she was 13 months old. PHOTO: Supplied

Nobody was more important to Lee Ann than her daughter, who now lives with Santa and Jack.

“We told Danté that Jesus comes down once a week and picks angels,” her grandmother says.

“We told her he’d picked her mom, who had gone with him. We told her that her mom fell asleep in the pool.”

She often writes notes to her mother. “She says if she hadn’t been naughty and listened her mom would still be around.”

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