Woman killed by stran­gu­la­tion, says ex­pert

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NOR­MAN CLOETE

FOREN­SICS ex­pert pro­fes­sor Lorna Martin tes­ti­fied in the Cape High Court this week that Shar­isha Chauhan died as a re­sult of man­ual stran­gu­la­tion. Chauhan’s for­mer part­ner, Taariq Phillips, has pleaded not guilty to charges of mur­der and rape.

The cou­ple and their friends were at a rave party at the La Bac Farm in Paarl on New Year’s Eve 2013 when tragedy struck.

It is the State’s case that Phillips and the de­ceased, who were both 21 at the time, con­sumed recre­ational drugs.

Tox­i­col­ogy re­ports re­vealed that Chauhan’s blood tested neg­a­tive for drugs but in the tox­i­col­ogy sum­mary it was noted that traces of co­caine had been found in her blood­stream.

The State and the de­fence could not agree if the traces were from the night in ques­tion or from a pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, Chauhan had felt un­well and had been es­corted by friends to her tent and left with Phillips.

They say Chauhan had been fully clothed and with­out in­juries when they last saw her.

Paramedics were called af­ter mid­night to the tent where Chauhan was found naked and con­vuls­ing.

The young woman was taken to the Paarl Medi-Clinic in the early hours of Jan­uary 1, 2014 where she was treated for an al­leged drugs over­dose.

Chauhan died in ICU that evening.

Martin, who has been a foren­sic pathol­o­gist since 1990 and has com­pleted a mas­ter’s the­sis on rape homi­cide and wrote guide­lines for the treat­ment of rape sur­vivors, told the court that post-mortem re­sults showed Chauhan had died of global hy­poxia – which oc­curs due to a lack of oxy­gen to the brain.

She said the in­juries to Chauhan’s gen­i­talia and anus area were in keep­ing with rape or blunt force trauma.

The de­fence’s ar­gu­ment is that the bruises may have been caused by vig­or­ous mas­tur­ba­tion.

“I am of the opin­ion that the in­juries as recorded as find­ing at au­topsy are due to blunt force trauma, con­sis­tent with man­ual stran­gu­la­tion, clo­sure of the mouth, force­ful gen­i­tal and anal pen­e­tra­tion,” said Martin.

In her re­port, Martin said she was of the opin­ion Chauhan had been raped more than once.

She tes­ti­fied that while sem­i­nal flu­ids were found on the de­ceased no DNA was found, but that this could mean that no DNA tests had been done or the flu­ids con­tained too lit­tle DNA.

Martin said there was no phar­ma­co­log­i­cal ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the in­take of any drugs would have led to the de­ceased’s neu­ro­log­i­cal state or the con­vul­sions she ex­pe­ri­enced.

“The orig­i­nal dam­ages caused by the man­ual stran­gu­la­tion set off a chain of events which con­trib­uted to the death.

“Even though the de­ceased sur­vived for a while, I am not con­vinced there would have been another out­come.”

The de­fence said the ac­cused would tes­tify that he did not stran­gle, rape or as­sault Chauhan.

Taariq Phillips and Shar­isha Chauhan. Phillips is ac­cused of the rape and mur­der of Chauhan on New Year’s Eve in 2013.

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