LIFE AND NO AP­PEAL for farm killer

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A CON­VICTED farm mur­derer, who “sev­ered the hand that was feed­ing him” has been sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment in the North­ern Cape High Court.

He has also been de­nied leave to ap­peal his sen­tence.

The 31-year-old Hen­drick Daw­son was con­victed of mur­der and rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances in No­vem­ber last year and sen­tenced by Judge Mpho Mamosebo to 15 years im­pris­on­ment on the charge of rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances and life im­pris­on­ment for the charge of mur­der.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened in No­vem­ber 2017 in Kaka­mas.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port at the time, 64-year-old Jan Hough, a pen­sioner, never re­turned home to his wife af­ter he went to pick up a worker.

Po­lice spokesman Fran­cois Steenkamp said the worker was con­fronted af­ter he was later seen driv­ing around in Hough’s car. He jumped out of the ve­hi­cle and fled.

“It was then no­ticed that the sus­pect had some red stains on his shirt that looked like blood. The in­ci­dent was re­ported to the po­lice,” Steenkamp said.

“With the help of the com­mu­nity and var­i­ous po­lice units a search was launched for the miss­ing Hough. His body was even­tu­ally found in an open veld near Spieelkop, Kaka­mas.”

The de­ceased had a stab wound to his body.

Dur­ing the trial, Daw­son, ten­dered a plea of not guilty on both counts. In his plea ex­pla­na­tion, in re­spect of the mur­der, he ad­mit­ted stab­bing the de­ceased on the day of the in­ci­dent but pleaded self-de­fence. He claimed that he was at­tacked by the de­ceased and a Willem Bruwer (also re­ferred to as “Wil­lie”).

In re­spect of the rob­bery he de­nied rob­bing the de­ceased of his Isuzu bakkie and main­tained that he was in­structed by Bruwer to drive it to a cer­tain vine­yard.

He was found guilty on both charges.

Dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing last week, Judge Mamosebo pointed out that Daw­son had four pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, three of which in­volved dis­hon­esty.

“The el­e­ment of dis­hon­esty is shown by the fact that when ap­ply­ing for bail he only made ref­er­ence to a new born baby that ne­ces­si­tated him be­ing re­leased on bail for pur­poses of the well­ness of the child, whereas in the trial ref­er­ence was also made to a three-year-old daugh­ter. The three­year-old stays per­ma­nently with its mother and is well taken care of fi­nan­cially.”

Judge Mamosebo fur­ther pointed out that at the time of his con­vic­tion, Daw­son was not gain­fully em­ployed be­cause he had been in­car­cer­ated for a pe­riod of 14 months.

Among the ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors con­sid­ered by the court was that the crimes were planned and pre­med­i­tated, they were com­mit­ted in a se­cluded area where the ac­cused had led the de­ceased and that the ac­cused had oc­cu­pied a po­si­tion of trust in an em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tion­ship and had abused that trust. “The killing of famers and farm­work­ers in this coun­try is de­plorable and also af­fects food pro­duc­tion neg­a­tively.”

Judge Mamosebo pointed out that the de­ceased had been fa­tally stabbed and a bakkie be­long­ing to him was taken through vi­o­lent means.

“The ac­cused’s claims of self-de­fence for the mur­der and that he was in­structed to drive the bakkie to a par­tic­u­lar point by the state wit­ness are un­true. The ac­cused had sev­ered the hand that was feed­ing him.”

She added that the Vic­tim Im­pact Re­port, com­piled by a so­cial worker, “re­flects a sad ac­count of the dev­as­ta­tion suf­fered by the de­ceased’s widow, Catha­rina Hough, and her two daugh­ters, Gerna Hough and Sonja Hough”.

“The vic­tims are se­verely trau­ma­tised and strug­gle to ad­just emo­tion­ally. The vic­tim’s wife, who suf­fers from se­vere de­pres­sion and post-trau­matic stress, was ad­mit­ted to a psy­chi­atric in­sti­tu­tion fol­low­ing the loss of her hus­band. Even though she did not per­son­ally wit­ness the crime, she is re­ported to still be re­liv­ing the episode a year later.”

Judge Mamosebo said she found no sub­stan­tial and com­pelling cir­cum­stances en­ti­tling the court from de­vi­at­ing from the pre­scribed min­i­mum sen­tences.

“The area of the body that was stabbed also shows that the ac­cused in­tended for the de­ceased to die. The mur­der was grue­some and aimed at an un­sus­pect­ing and un­armed vic­tim. The ac­cused had clearly planned the per­pe­tra­tion of these of­fences and even chose the se­cluded area where he knew he would not be dis­turbed. He left the de­ceased to die in the veld.”

Judge Mamosebo added that the con­duct of the ac­cused was with a fla­grant dis­re­gard for the sanc­tity of hu­man life, while he also did not show any re­morse dur­ing the trial.

“This is no or­di­nary mur­der. It in­volves a farm worker who, af­ter be­ing fetched by his em­ployer, the de­ceased, from home to work at his res­i­dence, di­rected the de­ceased to a se­cluded area where he, among the many lac­er­a­tions, abra­sions and bruises all over the de­ceased’s body, in­flicted in­cised wounds on the chest which pen­e­trated the de­ceased’s heart. He there­after took his bakkie and drove it around town un­til sus­pect­ing wit­nesses in­ter­vened.” THURS­DAY

An ap­pli­ca­tion by Daw­son to ap­peal the con­vic­tion and sen­tence was de­nied by Judge Mamosebo, who pointed out that the ac­cused failed to tes­tify in the main trial and did not call any wit­nesses to sup­port his ver­sion.

“The state wit­nesses were not dis­cred­ited and the state ev­i­dence was over­whelm­ing against the ac­cused on both counts and re­main un­con­tro­verted.”

Re­gard­ing ap­peal against the sen­tence, she said the se­ri­ous­ness of the crimes, cou­pled with the in­ter­ests of so­ci­ety, were weighty jus­ti­fi­ca­tions that ne­ces­si­tated the sen­tence im­posed.

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