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Tuesday 6 December 2016

'I shot them because they wanted me out of the house'

•Victims 'lived in fear' •Accused's daughter 'hit between eyeballs'

Emily MacLean

Published 27/08/2011 | 05:00

Murder suspect Erwin Poppinger
Murder suspect Erwin Poppinger

THE man accused of murdering his daughter and Irish son-in-law in South Africa has admitted he shot the pair -- but said it was because they wanted to kick him out of the house.

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Edwin Poppinger (75) is accused of shooting diving school boss Kevin McGuirk (54) and his wife Kim (34) in their bedroom in Alberton, South Africa.

Yesterday Mr Poppinger appeared in court in Johannesburg and made the shock admission: "I shot them because they wanted me out of the house."

However, he said in a statement that he intended to plead not guilty and was seeking bail for health and age reasons.

Evidence given by investigating officers also revealed:

•Mr McGuirk was shot in the back of the neck and left shoulder as the couple lay in bed.

•Kim was shot between her eyeballs.

•Mr Poppinger claimed he acted in self defence but bullets in bed allegedly show he was lying.

•Four days before the murder a restraining order was issued forcing Mr Poppinger to surrender his gun -- but it appears the order was not served.

The court also heard that the couple feared for their lives in the home they shared with Mr Poppinger.

Detective Sathieseelan Pilay read complaints given by Mrs McGuirk just days before the shooting, which were part of the pair's bid to have her father's handgun confiscated.

"Both the victims were living in fear," he said.

"The statement that really got to me was that on June 20 this year the applicant came and tampered with their bedroom door at 1.30am and attempted to get into the room."

Mrs McGuirk had told police: "He was sneaking around outside the room -- we have wooden floors. I couldn't sleep.

"He was timing his actions to the rhythm of my husband's snoring."

A restraining order issued on August 11 banned Mr Poppinger from verbally, emotionally or physically abusing the couple, who had been married for five years.

It said he must not enter their bedroom and would be forced to surrender his 9mm Browning gun to police.

It is understood that he had not been served with the papers and therefore still possessed the gun on August 15 when the alleged murder took place.

Police believe the elderly man tried to cover his tracks afterwards.

It is understood to have happened between 11.11pm, when Mrs McGuirk spoke to a friend on the phone, and 8am, when police were called.

The detective said: "He had enough time to plan his defence. We know for a fact that he moved the victims to where we found them."

He found their bodies on the floor, indicating that the pensioner had tried to make it look like the pair had attacked him.

"We found a pair of gloves in the applicant's dressing cabinet with fresh blood on them," the detective said.

"He could also have used the gloves to shoot, which implies that it was planned. We believe it was premeditated and calculated.

"This case is very strong. I'm sure that this case will end up in high court.

"He did not want the victims to stay in the premises and the victims had a legal rental contract to stay. That may be the motive for the killing."

Police also believe that Mr Poppinger chose the night of Monday last week as a time to attack, because a domestic worker who often stays over was not there.

Mr Poppinger is seeking bail saying he suffers from sugar diabetes, asthma and a benign prostate problem.

Police said that Mr Poppinger, a German citizen, might flee South Africa if given bail.

The court made no decision on bail and postponed the hearing to September 6.

Irish Independent

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