Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Cape Town - Taxi driver Jacob Humphreys - at the wheel when his taxi full of school children was hit by a train at a level crossing - has petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal to have his murder convictions and jail sentence overturned.
Ten children died when Humphreys overtook a line of stationary vehicles waiting at the lowered boom of the Buttskop level crossing at Blackheath on the morning of August 25, 2010, dodged around the boom and collided with an oncoming train.
Four children were also seriously injured.
Humphreys’s lawyers argued in the appeal court in Bloemfontein that he should have been convicted of culpable homicide, not murder, and that the Western Cape High Court had erred in rejecting his version of events.
His lawyers argued that the sentences imposed were “shockingly inappropriate”. In December 2011, Judge Robert Henney convicted Humphreys of 10 counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.
Humphreys was sentenced to 12 years for each murder, and six years for each attempted murder. With an order that various parts of the sentences run concurrently, his effective jail sentence was 20 years.
Judge Henney denied Humphreys leave to appeal, prompting him to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
On Monday, State advocate Susan Galloway argued that Humphreys did not deny State witness evidence of stationary vehicles waiting to cross the level-crossing and that he overtook those vehicles that morning, but simply said he could not remember what happened.
She also argued that the State witnesses corroborated one another, and that Humphreys did not come across as a honest witness. Judge Henney had been correct to reject his evidence that he suffered from temporary amnesia.
“The trial court was correct in finding that Humphreys acted in a goal-directed manner by executing several manoeuvres which required a good amount of skill and concentration. He then conveniently forgets salient parts thereof… ” Galloway said.
The prosecution said that any form of correctional supervision was not an appropriate sentence.
The court now has to decide whether Humphreys’s murder and attempted murder convictions as well as the sentences imposed should stand or be overturned. Judgment was reserved.