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Durban - Durban pensioner Robert Gilmore, who allegedly caused a crash in which a three-year-old child was killed a year ago, “smelt of liquor and was slurring his words” at the accident scene.
This was the testimony of Sergeant Robert Lander-Ritchie, a witness at Gilmore's trial in the Durban Regional Court on Monday.
Gilmore, 63, has been charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder and reckless and negligent driving in connection with the August 2012 crash in which William Ratcliffe was killed.
He has also been charged with failing to perform the duties of a driver after an accident in accordance with the Road Traffic Act.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The State alleges that Gilmore was over the legal alcohol limit when he drove his beach buggy through the intersection of Kingsway and Old Main Road, crashing into the BMW that William was travelling in. William died in hospital soon after the accident.
His mother, Suzette Ratcliffe, who was driving the BMW, and her two-year-old son, James, survived the crash.
On Monday, Lander-Ritchie said he was the first police officer at the scene of the crash.
“It appeared as if the beach buggy went into the path of the BMW when the collision occurred. There were damages to the buggy on the left-hand side and minor damages to the BMW.”
He said he informed Gilmore of his rights and arrested him for drunk driving and reckless and negligent driving at the scene.
“While speaking to Gilmore, who was seated, I detected the smell of liquor on his breath and he was slurring his words. When I told him to get out of the car he was swaying and unsteady on his feet.”
During cross-examination, Gilmore’s attorney, Carl van der Merwe, asked Lander-Ritchie if he was an accident reconstruction expert.
Lander-Ritchie replied that he was not an expert, but that he had attended many accident scenes in his career.
Van der Merwe said that smelling of liquor did not indicate Gilmore’s level of sobriety, and Gilmore had steel pins in his legs which made it difficult to get out of a vehicle.
Lander-Ritchie replied that he did not know about the steel pins and admitted that he could not say how sober Gilmore was.
Van der Merwe added that a district surgeon who drew Gilmore’s blood for his alcohol level to be tested observed Gilmore’s speech and demeanour to be normal.
Lander-Ritchie said there had been a delay of about two hours from when he observed Gilmore until he was taken to the district surgeon.
The trial continues. Gilmore is out on bail.