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M3 death ‘tore families apart’

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johan crous

INLSA

Samanatha Crouse reaches for her husband's hand as he, Johan Crowse (L) with their attorney Keith Gess (R) they leave court. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

Cape Town -

A bizarre crash on the M3 freeway that left 24-year-old Lauren Devine dead has devastated two families, the Athlone Magistrate’s Court heard on Tuesday.

Lauren’s mother, Alison Devine, testified in aggravation of sentence on Tuesday in the case against Johan Crous, the driver held responsible for the August 23, 2008, crash.

Devine said her family was “shattered” by her daughter’s death.

“Lauren was an extraordinary young woman, not only was she beautiful but compassionate… she loved life. Her death has had the most incredible domino effect on our lives. We were shattered for two years. Gary (Lauren’s father) and I couldn’t work for two years and we lost our house. It was devastating. We got divorced in 2010.”

Devine died when Crous’s car crashed into the guardrail separating the incoming and outgoing lanes of the M3. A rock, or similar object, was dislodged and smashed through the windscreen of Devine’s Renault Clio, striking her in the face, as she was driving past UCT. She sustained a 90mm laceration to her head and inhaled blood. She died minutes later on the scene.

Crous, 33, of Hout Bay, pleaded not guilty to culpable homicide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving. He was found guilty on July 11.

While Crous’s wife, Samantha, earlier testified that she and her husband drank two beers each at Peddlars on the Bend in Constantia that afternoon, a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol was withdrawn against Crous in March 2010.

Alison Devine said on Tuesday that Crous had approached her and apologised to her for her loss.

Keith Gess, Crous’s lawyer, said during closing arguments that the crash had a tremendous effect on his client’s life. He said Crous had no criminal record before the crash but that his conviction of culpable homicide would be with him for the rest of his life.

Since the start of the trial Crous had struggled to hold a steady job, and the case had adversely affected his family financially and emotionally.

“The devastation and the death of this fantastic person weighed on him… the media coverage, with all respect, wasn’t favourable and weighed heavily on him. He was vilified by the press,” Gess said.

Crous wanted to meet Lauren’s family but was advised against doing so until the end of the case.

“His remorse is real,” Gess said.

Magistrate Heather Paulse is expected to sentence Crous next Tuesday. - Cape Argus

jade.witten@inl.co.za


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