A man who raped a 15-year-old girl had his sentence cut by a quarter because a judge said he was a young man and had a difficult childhood.

Nicholas Tobela was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl in the Ramaphosa informal settlement near Reiger Park, Boksburg, in 2010. He was 22 at the time.

Acting Judge TP Mudau, of the Johannesburg High Court, last month dismissed Tobela’s appeal against his conviction, saying the evidence “overwhelmingly proved” he had raped the girl.

However, he substantially reduced the sentence, from an effective 25 years to an effective 18 years.

The judgment was confirmed by Judge Fritz van Oosten.

Tobela had grabbed the girl in the street and dragged her to his nearby shack, with passers-by ignoring her screams for help because he told them she was his girlfriend.

He raped her, then offered her money, which she refused.

She escaped by telling him she needed to use the outside toilet. She left her cellphone and hat in the shack to give the impression she would return, and fled home.

She immediately told her mother and, on the same day, the police. Tobela was caught after the police found her cellphone and hat at his shack.

He claimed the sex was consensual, which the trial court dismissed.

Judge Mudau reduced the sentence because “I am of the view that a sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment for a young man of 22 years of age, at the threshold of his life, is shockingly inappropriate and not proportionate to the crimes he has been convicted of”.

He said Tobela was a first-time offender and cited his ”difficult upbringing”.

However, he said the seriousness of the crimes justified a long jail term.

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The Star