State blasts compensation suggestion for killer taxi driver

2012-02-20 14:37

Offering money for killing 10 children instead of doing jail time was not an option for minibus taxi driver Jacob Humphreys, the Western Cape High Court has heard.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway said murdering children and the attempted murder of others was a serious offence which had a ripple effect on society and could not be played down.

“The train driver and those who waited (at the level crossing) would be affected. And Metrorail has to carry the costs of repairs (to the railway line),” said Galloway.

“The very community which Mr Humphreys was trying to help would in effect be punished by this crime.”
Criminologist Claire Wolff had suggested in a pre-sentencing report, in mitigation of sentence, that Humphreys serve a suspended sentence of five years on condition that he offer monetary compensation for medical expenses and schooling, take part in restorative justice and submit to correctional supervision.

Galloway said the pre-sentencing report had indicated Humphreys had little money left after all his expenses.
Added to this, it was believed that he had sold both his vehicles as well as one of his properties to pay for his legal representation.

Humphreys, who wore a formal blue shirt, a pink tie and black pants, sat quietly through the proceedings with his arms folded, often listening with his eyes closed.

He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

While taking children to school on August 25, 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 and 10 of the children were killed. Four others were seriously injured.

Wolff said she could not reach a definite conclusion as to what may have motivated Humphreys to commit his offences.

She said a conclusion had not been possible as Humphreys had no recollection of the event.

She had instead listed relevant theories and factors that may have influenced Humphreys before he crossed the railway line.

Judge Robert Henney said: “Human nature is not something that can be pinned down easily. Your experience (as a criminologist) is based purely on theory and not practice.”

Wolff told the judge she believed Humphreys was remorseful, having expressed the desire to meet with the victims’ families.

“He has genuine sorrow for what he has done and is accepting responsibility. He’s not just sorry for being caught, but also for his actions. I do not believe Mr Humphreys is a danger to society.”

Henney said the accused had never acknowledged his guilt, which was a precursor to restorative justice, adding that if he gave a suspended sentence to Humphreys, it would send out the message to drivers that they could get away with anything.
Pre-sentencing proceedings continue tomorrow.

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