‘Traumatised’ driver says sorry to mom

Durban - Pensioner Robert Gilmore, charged with murder in connection with the death of a 3-year-old in a motor vehicle accident, hesitated and looked blank when asked why he had not said sorry to the boy’s mother.

“I did not know who she was,” he said on Wednesday, under cross-examination by prosecutor Barend Groen.

Pensioner Robert Gilmore has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 3-year-old in a motor vehicle accident. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

When Groen pointed out that she had testified in the trial, he then said he did not know what to say. “I am sorry, I apologise now,” he said without looking at Suzette Ratcliffe, who was sitting in the public gallery.

Gilmore has pleaded not guilty to the murder of William Ratcliffe, and attempted murder of Suzette and her surviving son, James, who was two at the time of the accident in Amanzimtoti in August 2012.

Ratcliffe says Gilmore, who was driving a beach buggy, turned in front of her as she was driving home from collecting her children from school.

Evidence before Durban Regional Court magistrate Phumi Shoba is that Gilmore had been drinking before the accident, and that two hours later when tested, his blood alcohol level was 0.17 – three times the legal limit.

Another doctor testified this week that it was probable that at the time of the accident it was about 0.21.

Gilmore insists that he only had two quarts of beer and felt fine to drive.

He claims Ratcliffe was travelling faster than the 50km/h she has claimed and that he had turned when she was some distance away, but had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.

He conceded under-cross examination that if the State proved its case that he had turned in front of her, then it would be “reckless” and he should have foreseen someone could have been killed.

He denied trying to run away from the scene but said he could not really remember clearly because he was traumatised.

“Yes, you were, because people would see you were drunk,” Groen suggested.

Gilmore said: “I did not think of that. There are gaps… I just don’t remember.”

Earlier this week, Gilmore’s attorney Narem Narotem said his client needed to be assessed by a psychologist because he suffered from a condition which made him unresponsive.

The trial is likely to be adjourned on Thursday for a date in June