Wilmot vows to appeal rape conviction

Published Mar 24, 2000


By Adrienne Carlisle

Convicted child rapist and former Eastern Province cricket great Lorrie Wilmot was back on the streets this week and at the helm of his new transport business after he was granted bail by the Grahamstown High Court.

In overturning a regional magistrate's decision not to extend his bail pending sentence, Mr Acting Justice Bonisile Sandi raised questions about the State's case against Wilmot. The judge said he believed Wilmot had a reasonable chance of success if he appealed against his conviction.

The judge said the State had problems with conflicting evidence and faced an uphill battle proving that it had linked Wilmot to the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1998.

Throughout her evidence the girl, who testified in a separate room through an intermediary, referred to her rapist as a white man whom she heard a woman call by the nickname "Tooty".

The child was not asked by the court to identify "Tooty".

Wilmot's advocate, Terry Price, submitted that the State had run its case against Wilmot "poorly and negligently, failing to apply the most basic principles of criminal law, procedure and evidence".

The State's case was also found wanting by the magistrate, Sampson Dunjwa, who acquitted Wilmot on two other charges of rape and indecent assault.

Mr Dunjwa found that in both cases consent was implied and, because the State failed in its most basic duty to prove the girls were under 16, he could not convict on the alternative charge of statutory rape.

Wilmot said he would seek leave to appeal against the conviction after he is sentenced in April.

He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years unless he can provide the magistrate with compelling reasons why a lesser sentence should be imposed.

Wilmot said in an affidavit this week that he was confident his appeal would succeed.

Since being charged with rape in 1998, Wilmot has divorced and been sequestrated. Despite these losses, the once successful farmer has begun to re-build his life.

He is running a company that transports timber from all over the Eastern Cape to Grahamstown station. He said in his affidavit he had built up some assets since sequestration and requested that he be allowed to remain on bail pending sentencing to keep his business going.

But the 13-year-old victim still lives with the horror of her rape. Her mother said this week she was pleased Wilmot had been convicted.

"She still suffers from this terrible memory, even now," she said. - @LiveWire

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