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Statue-wielding wife murderer dies

Published Jan 15, 2002

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By Inga Strydom

Property development millionaire Ronald Cohen, whose conviction for battering his wife to death with a statue 32 years ago caused a stir in Cape Town's social circles, has died in London aged 73 after a long illness.

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His wife, Susan, 25, was found in the lounge of the couple's luxurious Constantia home soon after her return from a holiday in Wilderness on April 5 1970.

Cohen, who was 41-years-old, was charged with her murder.

The Supreme Court trial began in September before Justice Andrew Beyers.

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Cohen, a prominent businessman, socialite and son of Isidore Cohen, one of South Africa's best-known entrepreneurs and horse-racing personalities, claimed his wife had been attacked by an intruder.

He stuck to his story, but during cross-examination it emerged that his version of events was seriously flawed and he was found guilty.

At the time, the death penalty was mandatory for people convicted of first degree murder if there were no mitigating circumstances.

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But Beyers found mitigating circumstances, namely that when Susan returned from her holiday she told him she had had an affair there and insulted his sexuality.

Cohen was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

He was released on parole in September 1975, after which he held a press conference to state his side of the story.

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He later emigrated to London.

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