File picture

Cape Town -

A man, 83, convicted of sexual assault and attempted rape, has died days before he was expected to ask the Western Cape High Court to spare him from jail.

Andrew Hayward, who was convicted in the Oudtshoorn Regional Court, was sentenced in February last year to 15 years.

But the former railway worker, who relied on an oxygen machine to breathe, died on Tuesday after being granted leave to appeal against his sentence.

He was released on bail pending the outcome of the appeal.

The appeal was set down for yesterday. However, the court was told earlier in the week that Hayward had died, Weekend Argus has learnt.

Hayward wanted the high court to set aside his sentence on the grounds that the magistrate over-emphasised the seriousness of the offence and failed to consider his personal circumstances, which included that he had a life expectancy of six to eight months, or that he had been convicted of attempted rape - not rape. For him, a sentence of 15 years amounted to life imprisonment, he said.

He submitted that the magistrate failed to take into account that prison was not set up to treat a high-care patient who needed oxygen equipment.

Even the State agreed, in its written submissions, that direct imprisonment was harsh and that a civilised society would not expect a terminally ill man to be put behind bars.

While it recommended a wholly suspended sentence, the State left it to the court to decide further.