Bob Hewitt's lawyers to appeal his conviction - reports

OCTOBER 7, 2015

Allegations that three of Bob Hewitt's victims colluded against him before his rape trial have prompted his lawyers to explore appealing his conviction, Eyewitness News and the SABC reported.

This comes after the SABC reported on Tuesday that it was in possession of documents proving communication about the case between three of Hewitt's accusers.

Hewitt, a former Grand Slam champion now living on a farm outside Port Elizabeth, was found guilty of raping Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken and Suellen Sheehan in the 1980s and of sexually assaulting a third woman, who may not be named, in the 1990s. He was their tennis coach at the time.

In May, the 75-year-old former Grand Slam champion was sentenced, in effect, to six years in jail. The High Court gave him leave to appeal his sentence but not his conviction.

The matter was taken up with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which also agreed that Hewitt could only appeal his sentence but not the conviction. A date was yet to be set for the appeal.

Women could be charged

Hewitt's lawyer, Alwyn Griebeno, told the SABC that the new evidence could sway the SCA to reconsider and permit Hewitt to appeal the conviction.  

Legal expert Lleyellyn Curlewis reportedly told the public broadcaster that if indeed the contents of the document were proven to be true, the three women could possibly be charged with perjury.

Meanwhile, News24 reported on Tuesday that the Women and Men Against Child Abuse group, which had called for justice to be served against Hewitt, rejected the allegations of collusion.

It said the report was part of a tactic by the former tennis star’s lawyers to discredit his victims.

EWN reported that National Prosecuting Authority had also rejected the claims, stating there was no basis for the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported on Friday that Hewitt was ordered to pay $1.2m to Heather Crowe Connor, a woman from the US state of Massachusetts whom he allegedly sexually abused in the 1970s. He was also her tennis coach.

Hewitt has until November 2 to show why he should not pay.