House ar­rest for at­tack on Royal Ma­rine

The Independent on Saturday - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHI GOPI [email protected]

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.

Yesterday in the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court, Blayne Shep­ard won his ap­peal to over­turn his con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing of cul­pa­ble homi­cide for the death of Wil­liams in March 2013.

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.

Brett Wil­liams

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