Crash man visited two bars, court hears

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IOL NM_Robert Gilmore0 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Robert Gilmore

Durban - A blood sample taken from pensioner Robert Gilmore more than two hours after the accident which resulted in the death of eManzimtoti 3-year-old William Ratcliffe showed he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17 (grams per 100ml of blood) – more than three times the legal limit.

While in South African law the result is not legally conclusive because of the time lapse between the accident and when the blood sample was taken, prosecutor Barend Groen hopes to prove that Gilmore was intoxicated through the evidence of people who were at the scene.

And on Monday three testified that he had smelt of alcohol and had been unsteady on his feet.

Two – a tow truck driver and a senior paramedic – said Gilmore had told them he had had “two or three quarts”.

And two women working at two separate bars in the area both said they served him drinks on the afternoon before the accident at dusk on August 15, 2012.

Gilmore, 63, has pleaded not guilty before Durban regional court magistrate Phumi Shoba to a charge of murder, two of attempted murder and one of leaving the scene in relation to the accident at the intersection of Kingsway and Old Main Road when William’s mother, Suzette Ratcliffe, an advocate, drove into his beach buggy.

Ratcliffe says that Gilmore turned in front of her when she had right of way. While she and her other son, James, who was 2, survived, William who was in the front passenger seat, died.

Ratcliffe claims she was driving at “less than 50km/h”, and could do nothing to avoid the accident when Gilmore turned in front of her in the intersection.

But Gilmore, through his attorney Naren Narotam, claims he had seen Ratcliffe’s BMW some way down the road and, with plenty of time, had turned. But he had to stop to allow pedestrians to pass and the BMW, which he claims was travelling at speed, hit him.

Witness Nadine Smith, who was also parked at the intersection, said she spoke to Gilmore as he was still seated in his car. He smelt so strongly of alcohol “I wanted to throw up”.

She alleged that Gilmore had started “mingling with the crowds” and had then started to walk away from the scene. She alerted tow truck driver Victor Stringer.

He testified on Monday that he confronted Gilmore down the road.

“He said he wanted to leave the scene because he had a few drinks, two to three quarts. He seemed under the weather. He came back with me willingly.”

Stringer handed him over to paramedic Chris Botha who also testified that Gilmore had told him he had had two quarts.

He said he had examined him and found no physical injuries and while he may have been shocked, he was not suffering from concussion at the time.

Narotam said,

“He was going to call his wife from a phone booth because people were screaming ‘murderer, murderer’. He was dazed.”

Christina Pio, who worked at the Beach Cabin, said she remembered serving Gilmore a quart at about 3.30pm that day. He had left about half an hour later.

Tracey Spiller, who worked behind the bar at Cammy’s Joint, in Warner Beach, said she had served him two drinks after 4pm.

She last saw him at about 6pm “but he was not drunk when he arrived or left”.

The case continues on Tuesday.

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The Mercury


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