Convicted penis-size killers ‘practising Christians’

2010-09-28 13:56

Two former police officers who killed four men apparently over an argument about the size of genitals are practising Christians, the Durban High Court has heard.

“Both accused were practising Christians. There were no direct intentions to take the life of the deceased. There is little to suggest that they should be permanently removed from society,” said defence counsel Jay Naidoo during arguments on the appropriate sentence to be imposed.

“They have served the community as police officers.”

Yesterday, Judge Guido Penzhorn found Leon and Brian Steven guilty of four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

On September 10 2008, the Steven brothers shot dead Shawn Strydom (32), Nic Jansen van Rensburg (47), Rory Menzies (41) and Bruce Edwards (57).

Edwards’ son, Shaun, survived after being shot in the leg at the Merseyside Pub in Umbilo, Durban.

At the time, police said an argument began when a man made a comment about another patron’s genitals at the pub’s urinals.

In arguing for a lesser sentence, Naidoo submitted that Brian was a 41-year-old man with three children; aged 12, 16 and 17; who were all attending school.

“The accused’s wife is a nurse at Entabeni Hospital. The accused has been a policeman for 21 years. He left the force as an inspector.”

He said Brian had been diagnosed with a heart condition and was on treatment.

Brian was currently working as a clerk at a logistics company and had a strong family support. He was also a first-time offender.

Naidoo told the court that Leon was married with two children, aged eight and nine.

“He is currently employed at Ocean Echo as a clerk. Prior to his arrest he was a policeman for 16 years as a sergeant.”

He said Leon had been based at Durban Central police station and Brian at Mayville police station.

Naidoo said the brothers had very strong family ties, judging by the number of family members who had filled the courtroom to support the brothers.

Booze and racial slurs
He told the court that evidence suggested that the crime was caused by racial slurs, excessive consumption of alcohol and a fight between Brian and one of the patrons, Thomas Vivian.

“There was no direct intention to take the lives of the deceased. Shots were fired [with] no intention to shoot at the deceased.

“Having been dismissed at work is enough punishment. The accused lost their pension fund, their lives will never be the same again.”

He said there was little to suggest that the brothers should be permanently removed from society.

“They served the community for 16 years and 21 years.”

However, the prosecution argued otherwise. Prosecutor Gary Williams said the murders were premeditated.

“The racial slurs were over and the patrons saw that there was a firearm... these patrons went in and tried to close the door from the accused,” said Williams.

“Why did the brothers want to go into the pub, why were they armed? Why did they force their way into the pub?”

He told the court that the intention was to enter and fire shots at the patrons. It did not matter who was shot.

“When they entered the pub they entered with the intention to kill. This was premeditated. Premeditated does not mean hours or days, it can be at the same time.”

Williams said four lives were lost and four families suffered.

He said the brothers could have informed the patrons that they were police officers and possible have even closed the pub.

The brothers chose to take the law into their own hands and had shown no remorse.

He said there was no evidence to suggest that they had drunk a lot of alcohol that could have impaired their judgment.

“Any sentence less than life is inappropriate, society demands that these accused be removed from society as long as possible.”

Leon and Brian, wearing the same clothing as they did for yesterday’s court appearance, looked tired.

The judge had ruled yesterday that they should remain in custody and they spent the night in a holding cell.

The judge was expected to sentence the two brothers tomorrow morning. 

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