18 May 2012

HIV expert gives evidence in Gwaze trial

6:11 am on 18 May 2012

A defence expert witness in the trial of George Gwaze has told the Christchurch High Court that injuries his adopted daughter received as a result of what the Crown says was a sexual attack were in fact caused by toxic shock from her HIV infection.

George Gwaze, 60, is on trial for the sexual violation and murder of his adopted daughter, Charlene Makaza, in 2007.

Crown counsel says the 10-year-old was killed after her air supply was interrupted by the holding of a hand or pillow across her mouth and that she suffered a severe sexual attack.

But on Thursday defence expert witness Professor Sebastian Lucas from Britain, who examined slides from Charlene Makaza's autopsy, told the court her air supply was interrupted by a lung condition brought on by her HIV.

Professor Lucas, a histologist with expertise in HIV, said the anal injuries the Crown maintains she received during a sexual attack were also caused by her condition.

His conclusion is that the shortage of oxygen to the brain that lead to Miss Makaza's death was the result of toxic shock which stemmed from her HIV infection.

The Crown says her death was caused by a lack of oxygen possibly achieved by the holding of a hand or pillow over her face following a sexual attack by Mr Gwaze.

Earlier, a crown expert witness from South Africa, pathologist Lorna Martin, was recalled to clarify evidence she gave on Wednesday that she had dealt with a case exactly the same as this one in South Africa where a suspected case of sexual abuse turned out, on closer examination, to be otherwise.

She apologised for misleading the jury, and George Gwaze's lawyer saying her credibility had been called into question.