Sex worker’s killer found in pool of blood

2010-09-21 00:00

A NEWCASTLE man, Colen Lee Wheeler (33), was found in a pool of blood in the toilet of a holding cell at Newcastle court yesterday shortly after he was sentenced to an effective 23 years’ imprisonment arising from the death of a local sex worker and unlawful possession of a firearm.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance.

The Witness learnt that Wheeler sliced his arm above the elbow with a sharp instrument, and lost consciousness.

He clutched a photo of his two children in his other hand.

It was thought he may have used a piece of metal used to splint a broken finger, which he suffered when he was assaulted in the cells before sentence.

Wheeler pleaded guilty to culpable homicide arising from the death of a Newcastle sex worker, Jabulile Radebe, whom he admitted strangling on January 6, 2009, after she had allegedly taunted him for experiencing sexual difficulty.

Judge Fikile Mokgohloa sentenced Wheeler to 10 years’ imprisonment (two suspended) for culpable homicide, and to 15 years on an unrelated charge of illegal possession of a pistol.

Wheeler’s advocate, Louis Barnard, confirmed the defence will apply for leave to appeal against the severity of the sentence on the firearm charge on the grounds that it is “shockingly inappropriate”.

In his guilty plea, Wheeler explained that he was buying the gun from a friend, and had already set in motion the process of obtaining a firearm licence.

Describing the death of Radebe, Wheeler (who owns a motor cycle repair shop) said he and his wife had a “difficult marriage”. The night before the incident they had argued.

After consuming cocaine at his workshop, Wheeler met a friend at a sports bar, played pool and drank “four double whiskeys and a tequila”.

In the early hours he had an “urge” to pick up a prostitute.

Wheeler said Radebe agreed to have sex with him for R200.

He attempted to have sex with her at his workshop, but failed. After she had put her clothes back on she looked at him, laughed and asked what was wrong with him.

“At the time my emotions got the better of me and I lost my temper, whereafter I struck the deceased twice with a clenched fist in her face. Within a second I had my hands around her neck and I started to throttle her.”

When he realised she was dead he “panicked”.

Wheeler said he put the body into a drum, and called two friends for help.

One of them arrived with the police.

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