The first assault on former British Marine Brett Williams had been the first domino which fell in a series of events which resulted in his death at Kings Park rugby stadium in March last year.
And yet this fight, between Williams and state witness Grant Cramer, had never been properly investigated by the police, it was suggested during cross-examination of Cramer on Tuesday.
Cramer is the first witness to testify in the trial of the alleged “Kings Park brawlers”, brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard and their friends Andries van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk, who are charged with the murder of Williams and the assault on security guards on the night of March 23.
Cramer was initially charged with assault relating to what the State calls the “first altercation” which he had with Williams before the alleged “pack attack” by his friends, which left Williams dead.
But the State let Cramer go, on the basis that he had acted in self- defence. In their defence, the brothers have claimed there was a biased investigation and the issue of the possible impact of previous assaults on Williams had not been properly probed.
On Tuesday, while cross-examining Cramer, their advocate Christo van Schalkwyk made much of this, claiming Cramer’s version had never been properly probed.
He suggested Cramer should be an “accomplice witness”, who should have been warned about possible self-incrimination because he could have “started the chain”.
But prosecutor Krishen Shah was adamant this was not necessary and Cramer “was not the material cause of death”.
In his evidence, Cramer - a former bouncer - said Williams had started the altercation by punching him.
Williams had fallen when he lost his footing as he swung a second punch. He had fallen again when Cramer had “powered” him to the ground and then again when Cramer put him in a necklock, essentially choking him until he lost consciousness.
During cross-examination, the advocate established that the police had never discussed this assault with Cramer in detail, for example how he had “strangled” him, with what pressure and for how long. This had also not been canvassed by the doctor performing the post-mortem and an expert pathologist who would testify in the trial.
Cramer also said the police had never interviewed him about witness statements which claimed he had been involved in the so-called second altercation during which, the state alleges, the four accused beat Williams to death.
He was also unaware of another witness statement which contradicted his version that Williams caused the fight and that he had his “hands up in a gesture that he did not want to engage”.
Van Schalkwyk canvassed how much Cramer weighed (about 104kg), how many times he went to gym (at least four times a week) and the size of his biceps (around 55cm), saying this would play an important role in evidence to come.
He also challenged Cramer’s evidence that he had only had three drinks that night, saying doubles had been on special and his clients said Cramer had had at least six.
But Cramer stuck to his guns saying he was “not a big drinker”.
Regarding evidence that Blayne Shepard had phoned him the day after Williams was killed to suggest they meet and “get their stories straight”, he conceded that he did not view it as an attempt by Shepard to cover up and “lie to the police”. He agreed that they had all gone out that night to have a good time and there was no plan to cause mischief.
“In your mind, as you stand here today, had it not been for the instigation of the deceased, none of this would have happened?” Van Schalkwyk asked.
“Yes”, Cramer responded.
The trial continues on Wednesday.