Caretaker jailed for killing teacher

2011-07-20 13:14

School caretaker Gerhard Sippel was jailed for 11 years today for bludgeoning and strangling Pretoria teacher Ina Halfter.

Judge Tshifiwa Maumela sentenced Sippel (50) to 13 years’ imprisonment, of which three years were conditionally suspended, for the April 2009 murder of 28-year-old Halfter.

Sippel, a caretaker at the German School in Pretoria, insisted throughout his trial that he had waited outside Halfter’s flat in the East of Pretoria that day, but left without seeing her because he wanted to commit suicide.

He said he was devastated when Halfter broke up with him because she had reconciled with her ex-boyfriend in Germany, and thought she might be pregnant with the man’s child.

The blonde teacher’s bloodied body was discovered in her flat when she failed to turn up at school.

Her skull had been crushed with a rubber mallet and a rope had been wound around her neck three times.

Nothing was missing from the flat and the door was still locked.

Maumela found there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sippel had planned the murder.

He said Sippel’s claim that he had gone to Halfter’s flat to try and convince her to take him back was reasonably possibly true.

The judge said Sippel would not have turned back to try to talk to Halfter if she had been hostile towards him.

It could not be said that Sippel had been provoked and lost control of his emotions, as evidence about the days leading to the murder demonstrated civility and an amount of consideration for Sippel’s welfare on her part.

She even found herself in bed with him after indicating to him she wanted to break up.

How a “patient peacemaker” could however have killed the very person he said he could not live without, remained the subject of speculation, because no-one knew exactly what had happened that day, except Sippel.

Maumela said Halfter had merely sought to end their relationship peacefully and for that had to pay with her life.

“The deceased was a defenceless woman, killed in the sanctity of her own home. Save for indicating that she wanted to end their relationship, the deceased did nothing to provoke the accused.

“She had a right to decide what to do with her own life and the accused did not have a right to dictate to her.”

Halfter’s parents, Matthias and Elke, travelled from Germany to hear the fate of their daughter’s killer, but did not want to comment on the sentence.

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