Car sped past before fatal M3 crash – witness


Cape Argus

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.

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