Sunday 30 April 2017

Irish engineer pays tribute to wife who was killed and tortured in horror robbery on South African farm

Susan Howarth
Susan Howarth

Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland expat has told how his wife was brutally tortured before being shot and fatally wounded in a horror robbery at their isolated farm in South Africa.

Susan Howarth and Robert Lynn were attacked by masked raiders on their property in Dullstroom in Mpumalanga province in the east of the country.

After being burnt with a blowtorch, the couple were put in the back of a pick-up truck, shot and left for dead in a ditch.

Ms Howarth, who was aged in her 60s, died from her injuries earlier this week.

Her Belfast-born husband survived despite hours of torture and having a bullet lodged in his head.

He described how his wife was burnt with the blowtorch and suffocated with a plastic bag before being shot.

Mr Lynn, who is understood to be aged in his late 60s, survived despite being burnt, stabbed, suffocated and shot.

He is an engineer who is originally from Belfast, The Times reported.

He said: “I have to come to terms with losing my best friend.”

Mr Lynn said the trauma of seeing his wife tortured and left dying by the roadside will haunt him for ever.

“We don’t have any enemies, as such, and she dies in a ditch,” he added.

“And when they find them, and hopefully they do, I want to see one of them and I want to just ask him: ‘What did they get out of this?’”

Police have reportedly arrested five suspects in connection with the attack which took place in the early hours of last Sunday morning, February 19.

While Mr Lynn survived the attack, Ms Howarth died of her injuries on Tuesday morning.

Speaking to ITV News last night, Mr Lynn added: “The curtains burst open and two men came through the window. One of them fired two shots — there were two loud bangs and two flashes.”

As Ms Howarth lay mortally wounded, Mr Lynn suffered hours of torture.

He was bound, burnt with his own blowtorch, stabbed, suffocated and shot, but miraculously survived. He was released from hospital on Wednesday with a bullet still lodged in the base of his skull that surgeons have decided is too dangerous to remove.

Pointing to horrific wounds on his lower left leg, he recalled: “They started down here and they started burning me. (They said) ‘where’s the money? where’s the money?’” South African police said they were put through an horrific ordeal lasting several hours.

Eventually, three men bundled the couple into their own pickup truck.

They were driven to a mountain pass where Ms Howarth was shot twice in the head and Mr Lynn once in the neck.

Despite being left for dead, he survived, managed to free himself and found his terribly injured wife nearby.

Mr Lynn added: “I crossed the road, crawling most of the way. On the other side I saw Susan, lying in a ditch. Her hands tied behind her back. She was bleeding from her head.”

Mr Lynn flagged down a car and the pair were rushed to Midmed Hospital.

However, Ms Howarth died 48 hours later after slipping into a coma. Police said she was unrecognisable from her injuries.

Mr Lynn has since returned to the UK. He told the Middleburg Observer, he had to “face the demons”.

“Susan was a great girl. She had a great life — just to end up in a ditch with her hands tied behind her back,” he added.

The brutal killing has rocked South Africa. Ms Howarth is reported to be the fourth British expat killed in the country in the past week.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said it was supporting Ms Howarth’s family.

“Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We are in contact with the local authorities,” he added

Belfast Telegraph

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