Accused ‘amazed’ at State’s charge

Sunday Tribune / Cape Argus

Reporter: Jade Witten

The man at the centre of an accident that left a woman dead after an object smashed through her windsreen is “horrified” he may have caused her death, the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court heard. “I was amazed, shocked. I was completely horrified at the possibility that I was responsible for someone else’s death,” Crous testtifies yesterday after magistrate Heather Paulse found he had to answer to the State’s case. His application for a discharge in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act was unsuccessful. “In judging the evidence of the Sate, the court finds that it is not so poor that a reasonable court could not convict (Crous),” Paulse said. Crous recounted the events of August 23, 2008 that led to the death of 24-year-old Lauren Devine. It is the State’s case that he lost control of his car, causing it to dislodge a rock from an embankment near UCT on the M3. It is alleged that the rock went through the windscreen of Devine’s vehicle, resulting in her death. Crous has pleaded not guilty to culpable homicide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving. He said he and his wife Samantha had been driving on the M3 that afternoon after leaving Peddlars on the Bend, where they had watched rugby. They drank about one litre of beer each, Crous testified. As he was driving he noticed a woman in a black Mercedes SLK driving “excessively close” to him. “She was following me after I changed lanes. I felt threatened and tried to evade her,” Crous said. He changed lanes about five times, but the woman, later identified as Nathalie Phillips, continued to drive very close to his car’s rear. Crous said Phillips later drove off. Earlier in the trial, Phillips testified that Crous had been driving very fast, overtook her and lost control of his car, and that is what caused the crash. Yesterday Crous denied speeding. He said he was travelling at about 80km/h. “I felt my car wobble and then it veered broadside. I tried to correct it, but I couldn’t. I hit the barrier.” Minutes before the collision, Crous said he “braced” himself and his wife for the accident, and told her he was sorry. During cross-examination, the prosecutor, CJ Turner, asked Crous why he had apologised, to which he responded: “Because I saw we were going to have an accident and it was my fault.” The case continues on May 10 when an accident reconstruction expert is expected to testify.