Johannesburg - Vanessa Arendse could no longer keep her composure. She arrived at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court just seconds after her son Lindon Wagner was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his best friend Kirsty Theologo.
As she sat down on the court bench, a friend whispered the news to her.
“You lie,” she gasped.
Breathing heavily, hand to chest, she waited for court to adjourn, then burst into tears.
Wednesday’s sentencing brought an end to the “satanic ritual” murder trial – just more than two years after Kirsty was doused with petrol by her friends and set alight, hit with a rock on her head and left for dead on top of a hill in Linmeyer, Joburg, in October 2011.
Her then 14-year-old friend, Bronwyn Grammar, was also set alight.
Kirsty’s murder was the result of a satanic ritual. Three weeks earlier the group had decided that they would sell their souls to the devil and sacrifice Kirsty for the chance to receive fame and power. The ritual was based on a passage from the Book of Revelations.
On Wednesday, Johannesburg High Court Judge Geraldine Borchers sentenced Wagner to life for Kirsty’s murder and 18 years for the attempted murder of Bronwyn. The sentences will run concurrently.
Co-accused Robin Harwood was sentenced to 20 years.
Judge Borchers also deemed both men unfit to possess a firearm licence.
She found it inappropriately harsh to give Harwood a life sentence as she considered his circumstances to be strong factors that led to his involvement in the murder.
She said his youth, the bad company he kept and lack of parental guidance were all influences in his life.
She believed his character was less hardened than that of Wagner. He was a first-time offender who was submissive and had an immature personality. This had led to dependency on Wagner.
Judge Borchers called the act “unusual and perverted” and told the court she was of the view that none of the accused were satanists but had instead listened to music that influenced them and were also on the verge of learning about Satanism.
She said the effects of the act were devastating to the Theologo family, especially Kirsty’s mother Sylvia, who had aged greatly during the trial and was desperate and in great pain.
Applications for leave to appeal against the sentences will be heard on Tuesday.