Bail for driver after toddler dies in crash

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William Ratcliffe, 3.

Durban - As an eManzimtoti family were grieving for their three-year-old boy who was killed in a car crash on Wednesday evening, a pensioner appeared in the Durban Regional Court charged with his murder.

Robert Ian Gilmore, 63, also of eManzimoti, is alleged to have been “heavily under the influence of alcohol” when, in his beach buggy, he jumped a red robot at the intersection of Kingsway and Old Main Road, crashing into Suzette Ratcliffe’s BMW at about 6pm, killing little William Ratcliffe.

Wearing shorts and slops, Gilmore showed no emotion when prosecutor Barend Groen told magistrate Anita Govender that because of the seriousness of the offence, he was being charged with murder.

Groen did not oppose bail but insisted that Gilmore hand over his passport because it was alleged that he had tried to flee the scene of the accident.

Gilmore’s attorney Sunil Singh said his client suffered from epilepsy and had no previous convictions or pending cases.

“He denies the allegation that he went through a red robot, and the [blood alcohol] analysis is still outstanding,” Singh said.

The magistrate said Gilmore stood before her as an innocent man.

However, she said, generally these crimes were a “social problem” and had become a “common occurrence”.

“There will be outrage that a young child has been killed. But this court is not concerned with guilt or innocence and the allegations against the accused remain just that at this stage – allegations.

“He is 63 and has never been in trouble with the law before,” she said, granting bail of R1 000, ordering that he hand over his passport to the investigating officer and that he appear in court again on September 10.

Floods of notices were posted on Suzette Ratcliffe’s Facebook site yesterday. She wrote: “Thank you so much for all the prayers of condolences, messages, telephone calls, etc. We are taking it very hard and are counting on your support.”

“Best thing ever = kissing, holding and saying goodbye to my boy. Worst thing ever = knowing I’ll never kiss and hold him again.” - The Mercury


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