Pretoria - The couple convicted of murdering their two-month-old baby were sentenced to 10 and 13 years in prison respectively by the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius sentenced Nolan Schoeman to 13 years and his former girlfriend Marissa Rudman to 10 years' imprisonment for the April 2009 murder of their baby son Wade.
Rudman, 36, screamed and swore at Schoeman, 32, while being handcuffed after being sentenced, before bursting into tears.
“I hope you f***ing die. You f***ing c***. How could you not speak up? You took my baby from me,” she shouted.
Pretorius ordered that the two years Schoeman had already spent in jail should be taken into account when calculating his release date.
The judge found there were substantial and compelling circumstances to justify a lesser sentence, despite the horrendous manner in which the couple had tortured and killed their baby.
A pathologist testified during the trial that she had never seen a baby with such severe injuries. Baby Wade's brain injuries were so extensive that the swelling pushed his skull apart.
He had lung contusions caused by a hard blow to the body, unusual injuries to both feet, finger marks, bruises to his face and body, two broken forearms, and 22 broken ribs.
Pretorius said Schoeman and Rudman had been severely abused as children themselves and had also abused drugs.
She took into account the circumstances in which the couple had found themselves, being without employment, money, or transport.
The judge said the baby was severely abused for at least two weeks before he died. A medical doctor testified that any of the injuries would have been immediately visible. However both accused denied seeing any injuries and neither gave any explanation of how the baby was hurt.
Pretorius said she did not believe that either of the two was remorseful, although they now seemed to realise the enormity of their baby's death.
Rudman had lived with Schoeman, who she knew had killed her baby, for two years after their arrest, and only broke up with him when he was re-arrested.
It was doubtful if Rudman was a battered woman, as she had frequently chased Schoeman away, but always took him back, said Pretorius.
The Child Abuse Action Group's Lucy Redivo reacted with outrage at the sentence.
“Ten and 13 years is but a tap on the shoulder, because where is this child? He's gone, and gone in the most horrible way.
“He suffered tremendously for weeks. He had wounds that were healing that were more than two weeks old. We should demand stiffer sentences for people who kill babies. [Pretorius] was very lenient on them.” - Sapa