Reporter: Jade Witten
A lawyer has described to the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court the crash scene near UCT in which a woman died after a rock had smashed through her windscreen and struck her in the face, allegedly causing her death. Attorney Rafi Weiner told the court yesterday of hos, on August 23, 2008, he had found Lauren Devine in her car, unconscious and with a pool of blood in her lap. Weiner said that, as he was travelling on the M3 from Cape Town towards Constantia, he noticed debris on the road. He said he saw that a silver car – later established by police as the Ford Fiesta that belonged to Johan Crous – had crashed in to the barrier dividing the M3′s incoming and outgoing lanes. A rock dislodged from the barrier when Crous’s car crashed into it, had allegedly smashed into the windscreen of Devine’s Renault Clio, striking her in the face. Crous faces a charge of culpable homicide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving, in respect of the crash. Weiner said the guardrail on the M3 had been “severely damaged”. “I thought, thank God that rail was there.” Weiner also saw Crous and a woman sitting outside his car. They appeared unharmed. About 60 metres farther, Weiner saw a friend’s car parked on the side of the road, behind Devine’s car, and decided to stop. He said Devine’s car had been hit by “some object” because both the front windwcreen and the back window were smashed. “Inside the car I saw a young woman who was wearing her seatbelt. She was unconscious, breathing heavily, she was alive. She suffered severe trauma to the head and no other injuries. A pool of blood gathered in her lap… shattered glass was inside the car… my initial reaction was to call emergency services,” he said. Weiner said a doctor and dentist stopped, but could do nothing for Devine. “(About 20 minutes later) emergency services tried desperately to keep her alive. It was most traumatic and despite all their efforts, they couldn’t save her (and) she died at the scene,” he testified. Cross-examination is expected on May 17.
WOMAN SAYS ACCUSED SMELT OF ALCOHOL
Reporter: Jade Witten
A motorist has told the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court how she saw a car “speed” past her, crash into an embankment on the M3, fly into the air and then catch fire in the accident alleged to have resulted in the death of a 24-year-old woman metres away. Nathalie Phillips was testifying yesterday in the case against Johan Crous, who is on trial for the death of a Newlands woman, Lauren Devine, in 2008. Devine died after a flying rock struck her head as she was driving near Woolsack Drive on August 23. The rock dislodged from an embankment struck by Crous’s car and smashed into the windscreen of her Renault Clio, striking her in the face. Crous has pleaded not guilty to a charge of culpable homocide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving. Phillips told the court that she was driving on the M3 that Saturday afternoon when she saw the silver Ford Fiesta driven by Crous speed past her. “I thought to myself, my word this guy is gunning it past me.” She added that she had asked herself: “Why are you driving at that speed?” Phillips said she was the first person at the scene, and had spoken to Crous and his wife, who was in the passenger seat of the car. “I wanted to know if the people were all right. My view is that the driver (Crous) had been drining too much. I could smell it. His partner was also worried because police would come and test (his blood),” she said. On Tuesday, the State withdrew a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol against Crous, whose blook-alcohol level was 0.08g/100ml of blood. The legal limit is 0.05g/100ml. Another witness, Raymond Currie, told the court he had seen Crous’s car leave the parking area of a Constantia restaurant, then overtake him on the M3. He said he must have been travelling at about 100km/h, and that Crous was driving at a “high speed” as he passed him. Currie was not specific about where on M3 Crous passed him. Crous’s lawyer, Reaz Khan, put it to Currie that if he was uncertain about the speed at which he was travelling, he could not give an accurate account of how fast Crous was driving. Currie said he assumed that he had been travelling at the speed limit of 100km/h. The trial continues on May 7.
MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY AFTER FATAL M3 CRASH
Reporter: Jade Witten
The State has withdrawn a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol against the man on trial for the death of Lauren Devine on the M3 nearly two years ago. At 0.08g/100ml of blood, Johan Crous’s blood-alcohol level, according to the charge sheet, was above the legal limit of 0.05g/100ml. But prosecutor Momina Ismail did not explain the decision to withdraw the charge, saying only that it had been done on the instruction of the senior public prosecutor. She told the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court that the State was proceeding only with the charge of culpable homicide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving, against Crous. A smartly dressed Crous, 29, of Hout Bay, pleaded not guilty to the charge and its alternative yesterday. Crous’s lawyer, Reaz Khan, read into the record his client’s plea explanation. In it, Crous confirmed he was the driver of a Ford Fiesta and that he had been driving on the M3 near Woolsack Drive on August 23, 2008, the day Devine 24, died. It is the State’s case that Crous lost control of his car, causing it to dislodge a rock from an embankment on the M3 near UCT. The rock then smashed through the windscreen of Devine’s Renault Clio, striking her in the face. The Newlands woman drove another 20m before she collapsed in her car at the side of the road and died. Crous denied responsibility for Devine’s death, he also said his vehicle did not collide with hers. Constable Mzwanele Plaatjie was the first witness for the State yesterday. The second fo the State’s five witnesses was due to testify today. Crous was warned to return to court.