Pleas for leniency in sentencing ‘spade killer’
Durban - THE family of a Phoenix teenager, who was convicted of the robbery and murder of an elderly man, pleaded for the court to have mercy and spare him from direct imprisonment.
Ashley Veerasamy, 19, of Stonepark, and Abigail Pillay, 19, of nearby Quailpalm, were arrested in connection with the death of Joshua Pillay, 64.
The father-of-three was stabbed and bludgeoned with a spade in his Palmview, Phoenix, home, in November 2017. He died in hospital a few days later.
During mitigation of sentence in the Verulam Regional Court last Wednesday, Veersamy’s elder brother, Shaun, begged the court to give his sibling a “second chance”.
“He was always a good child and never gave us any problems. He took care of our sick, single mother and worked hard to help contribute to the house. This is the first time he has been involved in any offence. He did not know better and made a mistake.
“We beg that the court give him a second chance. He is young and, after spending over one-and-a-half years in prison, he has grown and wants to better his life. He is still young and there is a good chance for him to be rehabilitated.”
Correctional officer Rishi Ramsur, who compiled a sentence suitability report, said correctional supervision was a suitable sentence.
“They will undergo various programmes and, with the support of their families, there will be a better chance of rehabilitation. They will also be able to seek employment and contribute financially to their homes.”
He added that correctional supervision would not contribute to the overcrowding of prisons.
However, during the aggravation of sentence, Pillay’s son, Trevor William, said the accused should receive the maximum sentence.
He said his dad’s death took a toll on his mother, who died seven months later.
Williams said his family, and son, 9, who found his dad, were still traumatised.
“My dad’s death has taken a huge toll on our family. Every time we close our eyes, we can still picture his lifeless body lying in a pool of blood. They took an innocent man’s life. If they suspected he had taken the phone, why didn’t they report it to the police? Instead, they killed and robbed him. I want the court to hand them the maximum sentence.”
State prosecutor Musa Myeni argued that Veerasamy was found guilty of a serious offence (murder), which attracted a life sentence, and robbery, which could lead to a minimum sentence of 15 years.
“The post mortem results of the deceased show the extent and severity of his injuries. Due to the brutality of the accused (Veerasamy), he (Pillay) did not have even (have) the slightest opportunity to survive.
“Also, the accused (Veerasamy) showed no remorse for his actions, which is a concern. This is one case that attracts the minimum prescribed sentence.”
Myeni added that there was a possibility that Abigail could have been influenced by Veerasamy.
“The element of influence may be possible, as the accused were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. However, she played a part in the disposal of items.”
In his not guilty plea statement, Veerasamy claimed he acted in self-defence.
He said Abigail had dropped her cellphone in a taxi they had been travelling in. Veersamy claimed Pillay, who lived in the same area as them, had picked it up. They then went to Pillay’s home.
While Veersamy was outside smoking, he heard Abigail scream from inside. He found her lying on the bed with Pillay standing over her with a knife.
During a scuffle, Veerasamy retaliated by stabbing Pillay in the neck and struck him twice on the back of the head with a spade that was in the room.
In April, the court rejected Veerasamy’s version and was found guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and murder. Abigail was found guilty of robbery.
Sentencing is expected later this month.