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Three in court over murder of NI expat's wife in South Africa

By Adrian Rutherford

Three suspects are due in court today charged with a violent robbery at a remote South African farm in which a Northern Ireland man was tortured and his wife murdered.

The three, who are aged between 23 and 32, are accused of a series of offences linked to the horrific attack on Robert Lynn and Susan Howarth.

An armed gang broke into the pensioners’ isolated farm at Dullstroom, around 150 miles east of Johannesburg. The couple were tortured for hours before being bundled into a pick-up truck and driven to a mountain pass.

Susan, also known as Sue, was shot twice in the head and Robert, a former electrical engineer from Belfast, once in the neck.

He miraculously survived, but his wife passed away in hospital. Police said she had been left unrecognisable from her injuries.

Five suspects were arrested  and three will appear in court today to face charges of murder, house robbery, attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The couple, aged 66 and 64, were overpowered by raiders who broke into their house on the farm last Sunday. The gang entered through a window, shot at the couple and tied them up.

They demanded money and, refusing to believe they did not have a safe, burned their bodies with a blowtorch as they screamed for help.

Police said they were put through a horrific ordeal lasting several hours in which they were savagely beaten around the head and cut with a knife.

Susan, originally from Hampshire, had a plastic bag jammed down her throat and Robert had a bag tied round his neck in an effort to strangle him.

After being driven to the mountain pass, they were shot and left for dead in a ditch.

Susan was rushed to hospital but died 48 hours later after slipping into a coma. Her husband was treated in intensive care but survived and has returned to the farm.

He still has a bullet lodged in his head, which surgeons say is too dangerous to remove.

Robert told the Middelburg Observer he must “face the demons” and deal with the sadness of losing his best friend, adding: “She had a great life just to end up dumped in a ditch with her hands tied behind her back.”

He said he was amazed at how good people have been to him, but will never forget the evil people are capable of.

Robert described how he and his injured wife were driven away after being tortured.

Robbers walked with him into a field, where he was ordered to get to his knees.

“That was the last thing I remember. I thought I was dead after that until I looked up and saw the stars,” he added.

He eventually freed himself, before finding his wife lying in a ditch, bleeding from her head.

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