Cape Town - 180515 - Cape Town High Court- Murder accused Mortimer Saunders enters the Cape Town High court where he will stand trial for the alleged murderand rape of 3 year old Courtney Pieters of Elsies River. Pic Noor Slamdien/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - Mortimer Saunders has admitted in the Western Cape High Court to murdering three-year-old Courtney Pieters in Elsies River a year ago.

In a statement read out by his defence on Monday morning, Saunders said that he killed the toddler by feeding her ant poison to drink because of issues between himself and Courtney's mother. Saunders had been renting a room at Courtney's parents' house.

In his statement, Saunders said: "I rented a room in the home and on 4 May of 2017 her parents left her in the care of the brother."

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He said he was also at home that day. During the course of the morning, he went to the bathroom and 10-15 minutes later Courtney came to his room.

He said he told her to leave which she did, but she returned later and "being irritated" because of issues between the mother and himself he gave Courtney ant poison. "She started coughing and after neighbours were calling out to her looking for her she tried to scream."

Saunders admitted he knew he could not let her be found in the state she was in as it was clear the ant poison would not just make her sick but would kill her. He panicked and choked her, and then wrapped a towel around her face.

“I remained in my room for about an hour after that,” he said in his statement.

Saunders further said that after killing her he used his fingers to penetrate her and said he got aroused. However, he denied penetrating her with his penis.

On the rape charge, Saunders pleaded not guilty, while on the murder charge he pleaded guilty but argued it was not premeditated. However, the State rejected his pleas, saying it believed the murder was premeditated.

He admitted that when her parents returned that evening they were looking for her and this was when the accused knew he had to dump her body.

Courtney's body was found days later buried in a shallow grave in nearby Epping Industria.

African News Agency/ANA