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Killer maintains innocence six years after conviction

Crime & Courts
Pretoria – Gerhard Sippel, the killer of a petite blonde, Deutsche Schule Grade 1 teacher, has served nearly six years of his 11-year sentence for the killing, yet he still insists on his innocence.

Stippel has turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to appeal against his murder conviction.

A full bench – three judges – however confirmed that he was the man who had committed the murder.

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Gerhard Sippel in court when he was sentenced to an effective 11 years for murdering teacher Ina Halfter. Picture: Etienne Creux

Ina Halfter was in her 20s when she was bludgeoned to death with a rubber mallet and strangled with a nylon rope in her Equestria, Pretoria east townhouse, on April 9, 2009.

The teacher wanted to end her relationship with the school’s former caretaker peacefully. For this she had to pay with her life, Judge Tshifilwa Maumela said in 2011 when he sentenced her killer.

A blue and white rope, similar to that issued by the school to the caretaker, was still wound tightly around the pretty woman’s neck when she was found lifeless in her townhouse.

Ina Halfter was bludgeoned to death with a rubber mallet and strangled with a nylon rope in her Pretoria home Picture : Supplied


Judge Maumela said what had happened shortly before the killing remained unknown but it was a question only Sippel could answer.

Sippel, however, continues to maintain that he did not kill the woman who had broken up with him because she and her former boyfriend had reunited.

She had told him she suspected she was pregnant with her former boyfriend’s child.

Sippel said he was in such an emotional state after Halfter dumped him that he planned to drive as far as he could before committing suicide. On his way to Joburg he turned around to try to persuade her to take him back.

He said Halfter was not at home when he arrived and he waited in his car for her, but he fell asleep.

He then realised that it was futile to attempt a reconciliation and left before she got home, he testified.

But evidence on the tags allowing entrance to the estate where Halfter lived showed she and Sippel were inside the premises at the same time at one stage that night.

Sippel was convicted through circumstantial evidence and the judges made it clear that he was indeed the killer.

In appealing against his conviction, Sippel said the court was wrong in concluding he killed Halfter.

He also claimed that he was treated unfairly by the judge, who remarked that he needed to explain certain incriminating evidence after he refused Sippel’s application to be discharged.

On appeal, the three judges said it was clear that all the trial judge meant, was that Sippel needed to present a defence, else he ran the risk of being convicted.

In turning down his appeal, the judges took several factors into consideration, including that there was no forced entry into her flat.

Her keys, for which he had a copy, was found inside her door.

Sippel also attempted to wash blood from his T-shirt after the killing. “If the blood on the T-shirt could be explained by an innocent event, why wash it?

"He obviously thought that it was the deceased’s blood. The irony is that it was his own,” Judge Hans Fabricius said.

Sippel was also at her complex around the time of the murder. Judge Fabricius said if Sippel did not kill Halfter, the coincidence would be too big to be reasonably possibly true that he simply happened to be at her estate at the time she was killed.

She was also killed with a hammer resembling the one Sippel had and with rope he was issued with by the school, and which he used in the execution of his duties as caretaker. All this pointed to him being the killer, the judges concluded.

Pretoria News

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