Humphreys denied leave to appeal
Cape Town - An application for leave to appeal the conviction and sentencing of taxi driver Jacob Humphreys was denied by the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Defence lawyer Johann Engelbrecht presented his application to Judge Robert Henney following the handing down of an effective 20-year jail term for Humphreys.
"As far as the conviction is concerned, the court erred in its finding. It may have been gross negligence but most definitely not an intention to commit these crimes," Engelbrecht said.
He said the court could not believe the accounts of eyewitnesses as they all differed, and there was an absence of evidence and cross-examination.
Henney conceded that on a point of law, there might be an arguable case.
State prosecutor Susan Galloway said Humphreys' actions "remained those of a goal-directed person".
Engelbrecht said Henney had over-emphasised the seriousness of the offences.
Henney replied that any court had to take cognisance of society.
"How can that be an over-emphasis of the interests of society?" he asked.
"I cannot accept that a person cannot foresee this [the consequences of driving recklessly]."
The judge denied the application for leave to appeal both the conviction and sentencing.
He said he did not believe another court would impose a sentence other than direct imprisonment.
Humphreys was convicted of murder, following an accident on August 25 2010 in Cape Town. While taking children to school, he overtook a row of cars at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath, ignored safety signals and proceeded over the tracks.
A train hit the taxi, killing 10 of the children he was taking to school. Four others were seriously injured.
Henney imposed a 12-year prison sentence for each of the 10 murder charges, to run concurrently.
This came to 12 years in prison for the 10 murders.
For the four attempted murder charges, the judge handed down a six-year prison sentence for each.
Four of the six years on each charge would run concurrently with 12-year sentence for murder. This added in effect another eight years -- bringing the total jail term to 20 years.
A huge crowd stood outside the court after sentencing, some crying with relief and others shocked at the "lightness" of the sentence.
Marlene Booysen, a relative of victim 16-year-old Nadine Marthinisen, said the sentence was too light.
Battling to control her emotions, she said that while there was an end for his sentence there was no end for the pain of losing a family member.