Durban - Upon hearing the news that the Glenwood man she believed was responsible for the death of her fiancé, former British Royal Marine Brett Williams, had had his conviction overturned, Louise Scott said she was not surprised.
On Friday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, Blayne Shepard won his appeal to overturn his conviction and sentencing for culpable homicide for the death of Williams in March 2013. Instead he was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to two years house arrest.
Shepard, together with his friends and brother, had been involved in an altercation with Williams outside the Kings Park Rugby Stadium after the Sharks beat the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match.
The appeal was heard last year, and judgment was delivered by judges Kate Pillay and Peter Olsen yesterday.
“Once I came back to the UK, I was waiting to hear when this court date was going to happen. After he (Blayne) got leave to appeal, I had lost faith in the system.
“This result does not surprise me, but it upsets me because no value seems to have been placed on Brett’s life. He’s here, buried near to our home, and I have got on with raising Lailah,” said Scott, speaking of their daughter, now aged 9.
Williams, 29, had been briefly visiting the city while the ship he was working on had docked. According to reports, he was a Royal Marine for 11 years and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq before switching to work in the shipping anti-pirate trade.
Yesterday, Judge Pillay said: “In my view, the evidence did not unequivocally establish that the appellant (Blayne) wrongfully or negligently caused the death of the deceased. However, what has been established is that he was kicking at the upper torso of the deceased. The extent and force, given the dearth of credible evidence in this regard, has not been established.
“However, kicking someone with a booted foot is likely to cause serious injuries. In the circumstances I am satisfied that an assault to do grievous bodily harm was proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Judge Pillay said it was sad when any person lost their life unnecessarily.
“I accept that there is no evidence that the appellant has a propensity for committing crimes of violence.
“On this fatal evening, there was much going on. The deceased unfortunately placed himself at the centre of issues he had no business being in. That of course did not justify his death. Neither did it justify the appellant and others acting aggressively.
"There is no doubt that the death of the deceased had a severe impact on the life of the deceased’s partner, Louise Jane Scott, and her minor child as set out in her victim impact statement.”
Judge Pillay said incarceration would serve no purpose, and recommended Shepard be placed under two years’ house arrest.The Independent on Saturday