Killers’ depraved images

2013-11-28 00:00

THE killers of Ashburton resident Bob Hudson-Bennett (61) downloaded “depraved” pornographic and violent images of people with no limbs and “blood spewing everywhere” onto his stolen computer.

This emerged yesterday when Hudson-Bennett’s widow, Sheryl, took the witness stand to describe to Judge Rishi Seegobin the effects his murder had on her and their family — two grown sons, a daughter, a 13-year-old boy she calls her “ward”, and a grand-daughter who was a one-year-old at the time.

She said if she and the young boy, or her daughter, had been home that night, “things could have been even worse”.

Her reason for thinking this was that when police gave back the computer the robbers had taken, she came across the “most perverse, disgusting, depraved” images of violence and pornography imaginable.

She saw photographs of people whose limbs had been taken off and of “blood spewing everywhere”.

“The first picture I came across was very similar to what happened to my husband, whose lungs were hanging out of his body when I came across him,” she said.

Hudson-Bennett told the court she believed the accused before court, Mzwakhe Mdlalose (who did the stabbing), Sandile Mncwabe and Sphamandla Mkhize, were “totally amoral and lacking in sympathy and empathy”.

She called the attack on her husband “beastly”.

Hudson-Bennett, a local schoolteacher, said the impact of her husband’s murder on her and her family was “huge”.

“That specific night my daughter and her fiancé were on a plane coming from England … they were coming to prepare for their wedding in April,” she said. “We hadn’t seen her for a whole year,” she added.

“As a result of the murder my daughter was too traumatised to go back to England and on top of that she felt a need to be a support to me and to my little boy. The engagement fell through and she is still with me now,” said Hudson-Bennett.

She told the court her ward, who’d initially found her husband’s body, was so traumatised that he couldn’t sleep alone for months and had to undergo counselling.

Hudson-Bennett said she couldn’t continue running her five-acre property in Ashburton alone and moved house.

When her husband was killed, they had been negotiating the sale of some of their land, but this fell through, and two of their tenants immediately moved out due to safety concerns.

The widow testified that she and her husband had bought a motor-home and planned to travel on her retirement when she turned 60, but she had to abandon these plans, and now has to continue working.

Bob Hudson-Bennett was a former financial manager for Barlow World but had been retrenched 10 years prior to his death, she said.

He subsequently started a chip-making factory at their property in Ashburton and was involved in construction and renovation of houses.

He had embarked on a community project in co-operation with a chief Mlaba in Cato Ridge, to uplift the local community by teaching them skills to build houses and make concrete blocks.

When he was murdered the project was scrapped.

“My late husband was a family man. He was very homely and he loved the land,” she said.

The couple had been married for 36 years when he was killed.

After Hudson-Bennett finished her evidence, the judge asked each of the accused if they had anything to say to her.

Mdlalose replied that he did not because he had already explained that he knew nothing about the allegations.

Mncwabe and Mkhize both told her that they were sorry for her but neither admitted guilt.

The court will impose sentence today.

State advocate Dheelan Naidoo has asked the judge to impose sentences of life plus 15 years’ imprisonment on each of them.

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