Bleak birthday for killer teen

iol news pic jun24 DF steenkamp GRIQUATOWN 2 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The 17-year-old convicted of killing the Steenkamp family on their farm is greeted by relatives in the Kimberley High Court. Picture: Danie Van der Lith/Diamond Fields Advertiser

Kimberley - The sentencing of the 17-year-old teenager found guilty of murdering the Steenkamp family on their farm Naauwhoek near Griquatown on Good Friday 2012, will take place two days before his 18th birthday.

Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo stated that he needed time to consider an appropriate sentence, based on the volumes of evidence that were presented to him during the trial.

Sentencing will be delivered on August 13 while the killer enters adulthood on August 15.

Advocate Hannes Cloete on Tuesday pointed out that if the boy was four months older (16 years old) at the time the crimes were committed, he would have motivated for a life sentence.

The accused was 15 years and eight months old when the murders took place.

Cloete argued that the accused be sentenced to an effective 25 years’ imprisonment.

He said that the boy’s manipulative behaviour made him a danger to the society.

“He blatantly perpetuated his lies to his family, friends and guardians. He committed these crimes against people who he claimed to love. No-one’s safety, including that of his guardians, can be guaranteed.”

He stated that even if the rape was not of a long duration where full penetration did not take place and the genital injuries were not severe, Marthella was a 14-year-old girl who was robbed of her innocence.

“What was concerning is that this was not the first time that sexual injuries were inflicted. Marthella was tortured before her death. She stumbled over the bodies of her deceased parents in the living room and tried to call for help. Who knows what went through her mind before her death?”

Cloete added that Deon was rendered helpless, while two firearms were used to ensure that no-one came out of that house alive.

“The intent and cruelty with which the murders were executed are worrisome. The accused did not hesitate to lie to the police where valuable time and effort were spent on investigating false claims. It is time that the accused accepted responsibility for his actions.”

He stated that the expert witnesses had provided clues to the mysteries that unfolded during the trial.

“The accused failed to take the court into his confidence. The only witnesses that could give an account of what happened are the deceased members of the Steenkamp family.”

Cloete indicated that the accused had provided “fascinating and selfish” reasons about what happened. “He misled the police in giving the names of innocent people as suspects to the murders. If the accused was telling the truth, we would at least by now have been provided with a description of the attackers.”

Cloete said that there were disturbing warning signs leading up the event, including the drastic drop in his school marks, spending time alone in his room and incidents where he fell short of expectations.

“This incident (murders) did not occur in a vacuum. We need not look further for a history of violence than on the night of April 6 2012 when the crimes were committed. The boy’s refusal to reform as well as his lack of remorse count against his ability to rehabilitate.

“The accused acted independently without any influences. The pattern of lying emerged as soon as the crimes were committed.”

He pointed to the ripple effect and trauma these crimes had on the surviving family members, friends as well as the broader community.

“Farm workers were now unemployed and had resorted to drinking alcohol as a means of coping with the emotional trauma following the murders.”

Cloete also stated that the accused’s family was torn apart in a tug-of-war over his guilt or innocence.

He indicated that the emotions displayed by the boy could not be coupled with remorse, where he had manipulated the experts in order to custom-design the evidence to count in his favour.

“He told the forensic psychiatrist, Dr Larissa Panieri-Peter, that the dogs were there to look after the sheep and were not watch dogs and that the weapons were not in the safe – where the intruder could get to them.

“The accused was unable to recall details of the murders under cross-examination. In contrast, he had a vivid memory of what followed including where the weapons were left, money in the safe, even the chairs where the so-called attackers had sat,” Cloete said.

“He lied to Dr Panieri-Peter when he told her that there was not enough time for the intruders to rape Marthella and altered his evidence regarding the position where her body was found.”

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