Murder accused needs mental test - lawyer

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Robert Gilmore

Durban - The lawyer acting for alleged drunk driver Robert Gilmore, who is charged with murder in connection with an accident in which a toddler was killed, says his client needs to be assessed by a psychologist.

“He has a condition. He appears unresponsive, but it is not arrogance,” Narem Narotem told Durban Regional Court magistrate Phumi Shoba on Tuesday, requesting a two-week adjournment after Prosecutor Barend Groen closed the State’s case. Shoba suggested that this version of “a condition” had not been put to any of the State witnesses.

But Narotem said this was because his client needed to be properly assessed first.

If the magistrate turns down the request for a postponement, Gilmore will have to testify and explain if, and how much, he had been drinking before the accident at the intersection of Kingsway and Old Main Road on August 15, 2012. In the accident, mother of two Suzette Ratcliffe drove into his beach buggy after he allegedly turned in front of her.

She and her 2-year-old son, James, survived. But 3-year-old William, who was in the front passenger seat, died.

Ratcliffe claims she was driving slowly through the intersection after fetching her children from school when Gilmore, 63, crossed her path.

There has been evidence that his blood alcohol level two hours after the accident was 0.17 – three times the legal limit. Witnesses described him as smelling of alcohol and unsteady on his feet, while two claimed he had told them he had drunk between two and three quarts of beer.

The State alleges he also tried to flee the scene.

It has been suggested, through cross-examination of the State witnesses, that Gilmore will say Ratcliffe was speeding.

He will deny being drunk - saying he was dazed and shocked - or that he tried to flee.

The magistrate will rule on Wednesday.

The Mercury


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