DEFENCE EXPERT: Specialist forensic pathologist Dr Izak Loftus takes the stand at the Western Cape High Court. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
DEFENCE EXPERT: Specialist forensic pathologist Dr Izak Loftus takes the stand at the Western Cape High Court. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

#Rohde: Spier murder scene was 'contaminated' court told

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Aug 7, 2018

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Cape Town - Faecal matter observed in at least three areas in room 221 at the Spier Wine Estate, where Susan Rohde died, was an indication that the scene had been contaminated.

This is according to defence forensic pathology expert, Dr Izak Loftus, who testified on Monday in the trial heard in the Western Cape High Court where Susan’s husband and former property mogul, Jason Rohde, faces a murder charge.

Susan was found dead in a locked bathroom in a room she shared with Jason on July 24, 2016. She was found with an electric cord coiled around her neck. The cord had been tied to the hook of the bathroom door.

It is the State’s case that she was murdered by her husband, but the defence argues that it was suicide.

During the trial the court heard that faecal matter found in the different spots could possibly suggest that Susan Rohde was murdered and then dragged to the bathroom where her alleged hanging was staged. Loftus said the stool observed outside the room appeared to have been stepped on. He said the second observation near the bed appeared to be dirt.

“This shows contamination of the scene. There are no signs of faecal matter on the bed, Dr Khan (referring to State pathologist Dr Akmal Khan) said there was the presence of blood and not faeces on the bowel. There is also no photo of the back of the deceased’s body. The thigh on the left shows no signs and there are also no signs on the inner thighs,” he said.

Loftus said the only fluid present was on the tiled floor where the deceased was lying. He said there was fluid between her legs.

“The empty bladder plus urine on the floor - when people die they pass urine or stool at the time of death - for me, this is an indication she passed away there,” he said.

Loftus said, if the court accepted that the fluid on the floor was indeed urine, that would be an indication that Susan was in the process of dying and thus explain the Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) conducted by Jason and his friend, Mark Thompson.

He said Susan was taken from the door while she was alive and was given CPR on the floor, where she then died and passed faeces and urine.

“I would have been concerned if she did have faeces on (her) gown because that means she passed it while she was hanging,” he said.

The expert disagreed that suicide was staged. He said he saw signs that the deceased was still alive when the ligature was applied to her neck.

The trial continues today, 7 August.

@Zoey_Dano

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Cape Argus

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