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Mourning mother pickets outside court

Mom faces son's killer on anniversary of his death.

In the week of the anniversary of her son’s death, instead of mourning him, a Toti mother had to face the man allegedly responsible for his death in court.

Three-year-old William Ratcliffe died after a Toti man alleged to be under the influence of alcohol collided with her car at the Doonside robots on Wednesday evening, August 15, 2012.

Suzette Ratcliffe was returning home at about 5.30pm with her two sons, William and James (2) belted into their seats.

She had taken the Seadoone Road off-ramp and was travelling south in the intersection of Kingsway, near the vet, when her BMW collided with a beach buggy.

According to Suzette shortly after the crash, she saw a white car take the turn across her lane, towards Beach Road. She took evasive action, and pulled the car to the right. William’s side took the brunt of the impact. The passenger side of the BMW struck the back corner of the buggy.

William was resuscitated and stabilised before being taken to Kingsway Hospital. However, the force of the impact led to internal injuries which proved fatal and he was declared dead in the hospital.

The driver of the other car, Robert Gilmore (63) was arrested by police at the scene, on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol. He appeared in Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday, August 17 and released on R1,000 bail.

The case was set down for trial from Wednesday to Friday, 14 to 16 August in the Durban Magistrate’s Court, but was postponed to 21 October, due to the defense attorney having a personal commitment. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” said Suzette, who together with eight other people protested for harsher sentences for drunk drivers outside the court on Wednesday morning.

“We were all ready to proceed, including eight witnesses, so it was frustrating to have the case postponed.”

Toti residents are encouraged to wear red on Thursday, 15 August to show support for the family.

“I will focus on getting through Thursday, and then the next days after that,” said Suzette.

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