ANALYSIS | Nicholas Ninow's contradictions and final attempt to escape a life sentence

2019-10-22 09:06
Nicholas Ninow in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Chanté Schatz, News24)

Nicholas Ninow in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Chanté Schatz, News24)

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In a last ditch effort, convicted rapist Nicholas Ninow disingenuously and contradictorily tried asking the court for a lifeline when he shirked responsibility for his actions, blaming drug use for altering his state of mind.  

Ninow, who has infamously become known as the "Dros rapist", was handed a life sentence last week by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for raping a seven-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Dros restaurant in Pretoria in 2018.

In a desperate bid to avoid a life sentence, Ninow changed his story during pre-sentencing, painting him as a victim of drug abuse with an altered state of mind that led to him making the choice to rape the victim. 

READ: 'Monster Nicholas Ninow will never come out of prison again' - NGO welcomes life sentence

However, this new narrative was in contradiction with some of his testimony in mitigation of sentence, his plea agreement and a psychiatric report that was compiled while he was observed in Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in February.

A new narrative in mitigation 

During mitigation of sentence testimony, Ninow negated his previous evidence after his legal aid attorney asked him about his state of mind during the commission of the offence.

"With my mental state, it is not that I wasn't aware of what I was doing, I was just in a completely [different] mind state with the drugs. I couldn't think rationally, consequence was nothing to me, there was no emotion attached, there was no emotion, I was angry, I was full of hatred."

While mentioning his altered state of mind, Ninow still conceded that "I intentionally went out in that moment with that encounter with that girl, and I intentionally did those things to her".

READ: 'I'm not scared of crocodiles or snakes, I am scared of men' - girl raped by Nicholas Ninow

Then he attempted to paint a story of two entirely different people: a sober Ninow and a Ninow on drugs. He testified that had he been sober, he would have never raped the victim, inferring that it was the drugs to blame for the rape.

"Sober-minded, I would have never done such a thing, sober-minded, I would have never done such a thing to anyone, not even a little child. I couldn't even get physical with anyone sober, I couldn't even get, I could get angry, but I wouldn't never say violent," Ninow testified.

During cross-examination by the State, he added to this, testifying again that he would have never raped the victim had he been sober.

"The actions that I did was my fault, but I know for a fact that if drugs and alcohol were not involved in that matter, I would have never done it and it would have been avoided," Ninow said.

"I know that me on drugs and me sober-minded are two very different people. It's not about being in control or conscious of what you are doing, it's about your thoughts, when you are high on drugs, your mindset is very different."

ANALYSIS | Dros rapist Nicholas Ninow could face life sentence after judge rules his actions were premeditated

Ninow alluded to the fact that while he was conscious of his actions, and should be punished, he was still mentally incapacitated because of the drugs and that there was a diminished responsibility because he was high.

Because he was caught red-handed, he could never have pleaded innocence. He was also found to be compos mentis, which meant he could also not plead diminished capacity, so it was in sentencing that he wanted the court to believe that the drugs were responsible for his actions, and not him.

Plea agreement

But this new narrative is in complete contradiction to Ninow's plea agreement, which was read into the court record by his legal aid attorney in September, and is paradoxical to his mitigation of sentence testimony.

The plea agreement essentially put to rest any argument on his state of mind and whether the drugs were even in part responsible for his actions.

"At the time of the commission of the offence, I acted intentionally and although I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, I could appreciate the wrongfulness of my actions and I was capable of acting in accordance with this appreciation," Ninow said in the plea agreement.

READ: Nicholas Ninow details rape in Dros bathroom

"At the time of the commission of the offence, I did not suffer from any mental illness or intellectual disability that would prevent me from appreciating the wrongfulness of my action, or that affected my ability to act in [accordance] with such appreciation."

While Ninow admitted he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he also conceded that there was nothing affecting his ability to act. Ninow, therefore, admitted that he intentionally and knowingly raped the victim, and that his being high, did not amount to a diminished capacity, not that the drug played a role in his actions.

This is further set in stone as Ninow also pointed out he had intentionally disposed of the victim's underwear in order to get rid of evidence that could incriminate him.

Psychiatric observation

The psychiatric report, which News24 has seen, revealed that Ninow was diagnosed as a mixed substance abuser. However, the report also stated the diagnoses had no bearing on his ability to understand court proceedings and contribute to his defence.

"At the time of the alleged offence, the accused did not suffer from a mental illness or intellectual disability that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds.

READ: Alleged Dros rapist declared fit to stand trial

"A mental illness or intellectual disability did not affect his ability to act in accordance with the said appreciate of the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds."

The report makes no mention that Ninow had diminished capacity or responsibility because he was high and drunk.

The poem and a rejected version

He also attempted to garner sympathy by reading out a poem, intended for the victim. The disingenuousness in the poem becomes apparent as he also talks about his own woes and himself in the third person.

Additionally, the State and Judge Mokhine Mosopa also pointed out that at no point since his arrest, did he try and reach out to the family or the victim to deliver this poem or pay penance.

While handing down the sentence, Mosopa also commented on the poem and a letter written for the family of the victim, saying that these were only produced because Ninow faces a hefty sentence, and not because he was truly remorseful.

On whether or not Ninow is truly remorseful, or only regrets his actions because he was caught red-handed, is further bolstered by his version of events, which were rejected by the court.

He admitted to raping the victim, but in his version of events, he went to the bathroom first to do drugs, the victim entered after and told him that she wanted to urinate. 

He then acted impulsively and raped her.

READ: Court rejects convicted Dros rapist Nicholas Ninow's version of events, finds him guilty on 3 counts

The court found that Ninow had stalked the victim, followed her into the bathroom and then raped her, making his actions premeditated.

He stuck to this version during pre-sentencing. Had he been truly remorseful, he would have given the true version of events in his plea agreement. Instead, the version was changed, to make it seem as if the act was impulsive, in the hope that this would also lead to a lesser sentence.

The State also pointed this out during pre-sentencing, arguing that Ninow intentionally changed the version which reads as less abrasive and horrific.

Mosopa was not fooled by the mitigation testimony, and found that there were no compelling circumstances to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence. He therefore ordered that Ninow serve a life sentence on the charge of rape.

Read more on:    dros  |  nicholas ninow  |  courts  |  crime  |  rape
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