Child-porn accused refused bail

2011-01-04 08:48

Eight people accused of a string of charges ranging from sexually assaulting children to child pornography were denied bail by the Pretoria North Magistrates Court today.

Handing down his decision, magistrate Pierre Wessels said in the case of sexual crimes, especially involving victims under the age of 16, there needed to be exceptional circumstances under which a court could grant bail.

He said that after hearing testimony and reading statements from the accused and the investigating officer, he could not find any exceptional circumstances.

The eight faced charges of rape, indecent assault, sexual grooming of children and possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.

Those arrested included a grandfather (58), grandmother (57), their two sons from previous relationships, aged 34 and 36, the grandfather’s brother (61), and his wife (42), and their mentally disabled son.

The 26-year-old wife of one of the sons was also arrested.

Six children, aged four and older, were allegedly used in sex movies which were then distributed.

Four other children had been removed from the care of the accused and were undergoing psychological and medical examinations.

The State was investigating the possibility of a connection with a child-pornography syndicate.

Wessels described the testimony given by two of the accused as the “weakest and worst witnesses this court has seen”.

He lambasted one of the accused’s claims that he had had a heart attack while in custody.

“I am not a medical doctor, but I cannot see how a person can have a heart attack and then appear fresh in court the next day.”

During closing arguments heard last week, advocate for six of the accused, Naas de Jager, told the court that investigators had found no camera or equipment that could be used in the production of child porn.

He said police had also not found any films or images of any of the children showing they had been used in child porn.

He said that “the case has been blown out of all proportion” and that “the State’s case was based solely on the evidence of two children”.

“Without it the State’s case falls apart”.

Lawyer Lara Cole said there were no claims that the children of her two clients had been abused.

She said that apart from one photograph of her clients’ naked two-year-old toddler holding a biscuit, no images of children, let alone child porn images, had been seized.

However, State prosecutor Tanya Carstens said that while images of naked babies were commonplace, images that focused on babies’ genitals were not.

Carstens said the two children who had alerted social workers to the allegations, had told investigators details that no seven-year-old or five-year-old could know without having been abused.
 

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