Victim of crime says 25 years too short

By Lenore Oliver Time of article published Nov 29, 2006

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A Wellington woman, stabbed 17 times and left for dead after her attacker butchered her neighbour, is relieved that her ordeal is finally over but disappointed that the man will be considered for parole in 25 years.

Alexa Kirsten's attacker, Elton John Lourens, 29, was sentenced to 15 years for the attempt on her life.

He was also sentenced to life for the murder of her neighbour, UCT lecturer Lisbe Smuts; 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances; five years for housebreaking and three years for theft.

The sentences will run concurrently. Lourens will be eligible for parole in 25 years. Kirsten said on Tuesday: "I would have liked to have seen him grow old in jail."

Passing sentence on Tuesday, Justice Dennis Davis of the Cape High Court said Lourens's attack on the women was not merely to silence them, but to "inflict the maximum possible injury on both of them".

He said the criminal justice system had failed Lourens and his victims.

"The accused has an extraordinary list of previous convictions starting from when he was 10 years old. From that time on, he continued with monotonous regularity and committed crimes of theft, housebreaking and similar crimes of dishonesty.

"The question must be asked why on a previous occasion, given the impressive list of convictions, he was not declared an habitual criminal...

"We have to find an early warning system for our children because, clearly, putting them in prison does not work."

He described the murder and attempted murder as "utterly savage".

Kirsten, when asked by Judge Davis on Monday what treatment she would like to see meted out to Lourens, replied: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Lourens had broken into two homes on different dates before going to Smuts's Wellington home on February 7, last year, where he murdered her and threw her body in the swimming pool.

Kirsten had heard Smuts screaming and gone to help her.

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