‘Vicious, brutal, evil’
Mortimer Saunders guilty of premeditated murder and rape of 3-year-old
THREE-YEAR-OLD Courtney Pieterse’s rape and murder was the most vicious, evil, ruthless and brutal case Western Cape High Court Judge Babalwa Mantame had come across, she said.
Yesterday, Mantame highlighted details in the State’s case against self-confessed killer Mortimer Saunders that led to her convicting him of premeditated murder and rape.
Courtney’s body was found nine days after she had gone missing, on May4 last year, dumped in a plastic bag in Epping Industria.
An autopsy examination found that she had sustained tears and lacerations to her vagina, and the opening had stretched significantly. Semen was found in her underwear and jeans.
There were three possible causes of death – smothering, poisoning, or manual strangulation.
Saunders admitted to giving the child poison and strangling her, but denied raping her. He said he inserted three fingers in her vagina.
Judge Mantame said Saunders abused the trust Courtney and her family had placed in him.
“In most instances, these abominable crimes are committed by people against the child they are supposed to protect. The accused was in a position of trust. She was a defenceless child. The deceased died a slow, painful death,” said Judge Mantame.
She made reference to the “rocky” relationship between Saunders and Courtney’s mother Juanita Pieters.
According to Saunders’s plea, confession statement and admissions, he said he wanted to spite Juanita by giving Courtney poison that would make her sick.
Saunders and Courtney’s father Aaron Fourie grew up together and were best friends.
“The court rejects the version of the accused that he poisoned the deceased to get at Peters. The accused planned to rape the deceased; somehow things didn’t go as planned and he panicked and killed her,” Judge Mantame said.
Courtney’s mother stormed out of the court after sentencing and refused to speak to the media.
The case was postponed to December4 for sentencing.
MORTIMER Saunders was found guilty of the rape and premeditated murder of three-year-old Courtney Pieters. Sentencing will be handed down on December 4. |