Taxi driver played 'Russian roulette'

2011-12-09 16:15

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Cape Town - Minibus taxi driver Jacob Humphreys foresaw the consequences of skipping through a closed train level crossing, the Western  Cape High Court heard on Friday.

"I want to prove to the court that he played Russian roulette," prosecutor Susan Galloway said during closing arguments.

She said she would show Humphreys had subjectively foreseen the possibility of his act causing death and was therefore insensitively reckless.

Humphreys faces 10 charges of murder, or alternatively manslaughter, as well as four of attempted murder, or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The vehicle he was driving was hit by a train on August 25 last year and 10 children he was transporting were killed.

Defence lawyer Johann Engelbrecht said his client suffered from retrograde amnesia and could not remember anything from the time his car stood still at the Buttskop level crossing to the time he woke up and was taken to hospital.

Psychotic amnesia

Galloway would argue that Humphreys was suffering from psychotic amnesia rather than actual amnesia.

To prove amnesia, Humphreys would have to prove he was in a highly emotional state just before the crash. He would also have to prove there was a "trigger event" which caused him to act automatically, she said.

She believed none of these conditions existed and that Humphreys acted of his own accord.

Judge Robert Henney said he would have to decide on how truthful Humphreys was in saying he had memory loss.

"What is strange for me is that he remembers the moment just before the accident but nothing else."

He said if Humphreys' vehicle had stood still behind another vehicle, it should have been that vehicle which was hit.

Henney added that it was impossible to say that someone could not have foreseen a train coming.

He said placing children in front of an oncoming train could be likened to putting them in a pit full of snakes or a cage full of lions.

He warned Engelbrecht that if Humphreys disputed any theories by the State of what happened, it meant he could remember what happened.

Humphreys, dressed in green shirt and dark pants, wrung his hands when told judgment would be passed on Monday.

He was out on R20 000 bail.

- SAPA

Read more on:    jacob humphreys  |  cape town  |  schoolbus tragedy
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