Marine wasn’t beaten, he fell: defence

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

From left: Brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard with friends Andries van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk are accused of killing Briton and former Royal Marine Brett Williams in Durban. Photo: Puri Devjee

Durban - A former Royal Marine fell against a trailer and the man who allegedly kicked and stomped him denied ever assaulting him, the Durban Regional Court heard on Thursday.

Blayne Shepard's assault on Brett Williams that security manager Neil Burger said he had witnessed never took place, Shepard's counsel Christo van Schalkwyk told the court.

“Accused number one (Blayne Shepard) denies he ever assaulted the deceased,” said Van Schalkwyk.

However Burger, who was being cross-examined, rejected the assertion that it was not Shepard that he had seen kicking and stomping Williams before he high-fived a friend.

Shepard and his younger brother Kyle, along with Andries van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk, each face a charge of murder, three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria.

The four are accused of fatally beating Williams on the night of March 23 last year when the Sharks beat the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match.

Van Schalkwyk said that he would present medical evidence that there was no indication that Williams had been kicked and stomped.

“The deceased did not have a single blue mark or cracked rib,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Van Schalkwyk also said that Kirsten Jones, the girlfriend of Shepard's former best friend and gym partner Grant Cramer, claimed that Williams had hit Kyle Shepard when Blayne went to his assistance.

“It looked like he (Williams) hit the edge of the trailer and I never saw him move after that,” Jones said in her statement that was read to the court.

Burger reiterated what he told the court during his evidence-in-chief, that he had been called to a fight and was punched before he could even intervene and that immediately after picking himself up and going back to his golf cart, he had seen Shepard kicking and stomping on Williams.

He said he could not comment on what had floored Williams, but said he was disgusted with the attack meted out by Shepard.

“What happened to the deceased was violent and it was unnecessary. It was brutal. When the deceased was on the ground he was no threat to anyone,” said Burger.

He said that until Cramer had given evidence earlier, he had not been aware that before the final beating, Williams had been placed in a choke hold by Cramer and had passed out.

Burger told the court that the nature of his job had resulted in him being punched a number of times before the Williams fight, and since. He had intervened mostly in those instances in a bid to cool tempers.

“The majority of punches and slaps I've got have been from inebriated females,” he said.

Earlier, the court heard that Shepard had been hired on one occasion by Burger's employer, Fidelity Security Guards, to escort rugby players from the bus to the change rooms.

Burger, who told the court that he knew Shepard by sight and first name, said he knew little else of the man apart from the fact that he had once been introduced to Shepard by a woman who worked for Fidelity, which is responsible for security at the stadium.

Burger denied that he had appointed Shepard to look after players late in the 2012 rugby season or that Shepard's then girlfriend worked for him.

Van Schalkwyk produced Shepard's Fidelity shirt in a bid to prove that the accused had worked for Fidelity.

Burger retorted that temporary personnel were required to return company clothing once they had finished their shifts. He said he was aware that Shepard had been hired once, but that he had not hired him or provided the uniform.

On Thursday it emerged that Burger could not remember what Shepard was wearing.

“You cannot recall a bright pink shirt?” Van Schalkwyk asked.

Burger said he could not. “I saw the kicking action and the stomping motion.”

Burger said that examination of closed circuit television cameras had failed to reveal much about the attack as a light near where the incident occurred shone directly into the camera lens, distorting the pictures.

He said that there had been one meeting about the incident, but he was not aware as to whether security procedures had been changed or beefed up following Williams' death.

The trial continues on Friday.

Sapa


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