'Nothing will bring her back' - Man who shot and killed girlfriend gets 12 years

Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A man who shot and killed his girlfriend during a quarrel at their home in Cowies Hill, Durban, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.

The family of Elaine Lottering - who was 56 when she was shot dead by Wayne Gray in June 2015 - said, while they were happy with the sentence, they were devastated that he had been granted leave to appeal against his conviction for murder and the sentence.

Gray, now 51, was also granted bail of R10 000 by Pinetown Regional Court Magistrate Khosi Hadebe, who said while she did not believe she had "misdirected herself", she believed the extremely technical ballistic evidence should be re-examined by two judges on appeal.

Lottering’s sister, Karen Montocchio, told News24 that the family wanted closure.

"Now there is going to be more argument... and it's going to take more time. His family [he lives with his daughter in Empangeni] are also going through the same thing. I guess we have got to wait and respect that justice will be done.

"Nothing will bring her back," she said.

Lottering - a mother and grandmother - and Gray had known each other for many years but began a romantic relationship about 18 months before the murder. Lottering lived with Montocchio at her Cowies Hill home and Gray moved in.

He was treated "like family".

No-one knows what caused the row on that day, other than that Lottering was apparently angry that Gray was unemployed and she was supporting him.

Gray - who had worked in the security industry for 30 years - had been out and had returned home. Evidence was that Lottering was angry and told him to move out. After putting his belongings in the car, he asked for his firearm which Lottering brought to him in a blue bag.

Gray claimed the zipper was broken and when he took the firearm out, it appeared to have been tampered with. While "fiddling" with it to "make it safe", a shot went off, killing Lottering who was standing next to his car.

A witness, Lottering’s daughter-in-law Kerry Pistorius, told the court that she had heard an exchange between the couple with Lottering saying: "If you are going to do it, do it, but not in my sister’s garden", just before the shot went off.

The magistrate rejected Gray’s version that the killing was an accident and convicted him of "direct intent" to murder Lottering.

In handing down the sentence, she said Lottering had been a victim of "intimate partner violence".

South Africa had one of the highest rates of this crime in the world.

"The statistics are alarming... we live in a sick world. Women and children are under siege."

She said the only reason she had not sentenced Gray to the maximum term of 15 years imprisonment was because he was a first offender.

Arguing for leave to appeal, advocate Willie Lombard, for Gray, said there was no evidence that the relationship was violent or that Gray had been abusive.

He said the technical expert had conceded that Gray’s version was neither improbable nor unlikely.

Prosecutor Andre Meiring argued that Gray had given three different versions regarding how the shot had been fired.

"He also refused to tell the court why she was so upset... why he had been asked to leave. He knows but he decided not to tell. He also did not dispute what the witness [Pistorius] heard."

In a victim impact statement, Montocchio said: "Elaine was the glue of our family. Nothing was too much for her... I am angry that my family has been put through this trauma.

"We had given him [Gray] a home and provided for him."

Lottering's son, Logan Pistorius, said: "She was the kindest, sweetest person. She had been taken from us... why and what for? I am angry. It has almost destroyed me."

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