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McGregor’s killer gets 30 years

The man who murdered publisher Robin McGregor showed not a flicker of emotion as he was sentenced to an effective 30 years in jail. Photo by Michael Walker

The man who murdered publisher Robin McGregor showed not a flicker of emotion as he was sentenced to an effective 30 years in jail. Photo by Michael Walker

Published Nov 22, 2010

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The man who murdered publisher Robin McGregor showed not a flicker of emotion as he was sentenced on Monday to an effective 30 years in jail.

Cape High Court judge Nathan Erasmus handed Cecil Thomas a 25-year sentence for the murder of the 79-year-old McGregor, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds in the bathroom of his Tulbagh home in August 2008.

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Erasmus sentenced Thomas to 15 years on a charge of robbery, but ordered that ten years of this term run concurrently with the murder sentence.

He said if Thomas served the full 30 years, he would be 63 when he came out.

Erasmus said Thomas came from a respected family in the settlement of Saron, near Tulbagh, and had sought to educate himself.

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However, something had happened to Thomas in August 2008 “and maybe before that”.

“My problem is I don't know what it was,” he said.

“You didn't say what it was. I speculate it was drugs, or the influence of others.”

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The judge said McGregor had been a good man, someone who “made a difference”, and who had moved to Tulbagh believing it was a safe place to live.

“His house was open in more than one sense,” he said.

Thomas, however, had entered his home at night and caught him by surprise, and attacked him viciously, even stabbing him when he was lying on the floor.

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Erasmus said he had considered a life sentence, but had decided instead on the lesser jail term.

“What it means Mr Thomas is that you are getting a chance, a chance to pay for what you did, but also a chance to change your life,” he said.

Thomas showed no sign of emotion as Erasmus handed down the sentence, merely nodding from time to time as the judge addressed him.

However, a female relative broke down in tears first as Erasmus announced he would not impose life, then as a court orderly put Thomas in handcuffs and ankle chains for the walk back to the cells.

McGregor's eldest son Guy said Thomas had been jailed “for a long period of time”.

“We are very pleased with the way the justice system has dealt with this,” he said.

Thomas claimed during the trial that he had been forced to follow orders by members of the 28s gang, who told him to hand over his clothes so another person could wear them while committing the crime.

He also claimed he was forced to drive McGregor's stolen silver Mercedes-Benz in a bid to sell it.

McGregor was founder of the company ownership directory, Who Owns Whom, and was at one time a member of the Competition Board and of the Standing Advisory Committee for Company Law, Pretoria. - Sapa

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