Hewitt’s wife begs judge to show him mercy

2015-05-18 11:57
Bob Hewitt consults with his legal team in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Bob Hewitt consults with his legal team in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Pretoria - Former tennis champion Bob Hewitt will be sentenced at noon on Monday for two convictions of rape and one of sexual assault, after the High Court in Pretoria heard pre-sentencing evidence that swung between mercy and retribution for the 75-year old.

''My Lord, I have never had to beg before but I am asking you from the bottom of my heart to please let my husband return to the farm as I could not survive without him," said his sobbing wife Delaille Hewitt.

Reading from notes in mitigation of her Davis Cup winner husband's sentence, she said the day the allegations of rape and sexual assault broke, she was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The stress extended her chemotherapy treatment and without her husband, she would not be able to cope and would not be able to manage their unfenced citrus farm on the Sundays River in the Eastern Cape.

''I feel that I lose a drop of blood out of my heart every day for this pain that has been caused,'' she told Judge Bert Bam, who set aside his gruffness for a moment and gently urged her to take a sip of water.

''The media went on a complete manic frenzy and we were hounded 24/7. We had no privacy. They climbed trees.''

‘Son stalked in shopping malls’

In March this year, Hewitt was found guilty of raping Theresa ''Twiggy'' Tolkien and Suellen Sheehan who he gave tennis lessons to in the 80's and of sexually assaulting another who may not be named when they were in their early teens.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Delaille Hewitt said when the story broke they stayed indoors with their blinds down and their phone off the hook, and their son Turner was stalked in shopping malls.

''In my life I have faced adversity but this one is unbearable. My biggest sadness is for my adorable children,'' said Hewitt through tears.

She grew up in Potchefstroom where everything was ''pure'', and she was shocked by what they had been through.

The court heard that the nearest hospital is almost an hour away, and she did not want to always have to call her children for help.

Earlier, her husband had admitted that she had called Tolkien a ''dyke'' and her daughter ''mother of the dyke'' in her notebook during his trial, after a reporter had spotted this.

Evidence on Sheehan’s character

Delaile Hewitt took exception to prosecutor Carina Coetzee asking her about this, replying, ''Those were my personal notes'', as Bam shut Coetzee down on this line of questioning.

Earlier, Bam's abruptness almost had Hewitt's lawyer Terry Price stage a walkout when evidence he had tried to have admitted was rejected.

This related to posts on a Facebook page and how many times Sheehan had broken her arm, which Price had hoped to be able to submit to support his argument on Sheehan's character.

''Mr Price, this is getting totally irrelevant, stop it now,'' said Bam.

After threatening to walk out, and demanding to be spoken to with respect, Price took a moment, and continued.

He said that Hewitt, whose assets are worth around R10m, including a R4m house in Port Alfred, was old, he had had a stroke, operations on his knees, shoulders and Achilles tendons, and should not get a custodial sentence.

He and his wife received R9 000 a month for rentals and expected to receive R200 000 for a crop of oranges at the beginning of next year. They would probably clear R100 000 of this.

''One thing is clear, the accused is no longer a threat to the community,” said Price.

Of the victims Price submitted: ''All I am going to say about [name withheld], the offence on her was relatively trivial compared to Tolkien and Sheehan.''

‘No remorse at all’

There had been no evidence from a psychologist or psychiatrist on how the crimes had affected the three, he continued, with Bam interjecting that during the trial the women had spoken of how it had affected their marriages and their ability to sustain relationships.

Price said the court needed to remember that Hewitt's ''modus operandi was a grooming situation''.

''It was not like other rape cases where people are lured somewhere and physically abused, this is a grooming situation,'' he said.

The prosecutor, who is hoping he will be jailed for five years, said Hewitt had not shown any remorse.

''There is no remorse at all.''

She said the rape of children was not a new phenomenon and asked Bam to consider the view of the community.

She said the women had rejected a proposal that Hewitt do community work.

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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