Bottle store killer gets 20 years

2015-04-10 08:33

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Pretoria - A young addict who murdered a bottle store employee with a 1,5-litre wine bottle has been sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria to 20 years effective imprisonment.

Juan Pierre Smit, 25, of Faerie Glen in Pretoria pleaded guilty to the November 9, 2013 murder of Jennifer Ann Wright during a robbery at the liquor store in Mountain View where she was a temporary employee.

He admitted breaking into the liquor store that night with the intention of committing a robbery and robbing Wright of R7 300, liquor, cigarettes and the keys to the shop and safe.

Smit was arrested shortly after the murder while hiding in the club house of a nearby tennis club.

Wright died at the scene as a result of head injuries and skull fractures which caused fatal bleeding.

Liquor and drugs

Smit and some of his friends had used liquor and drugs at the store earlier that day while Wright carried on with her work.

Wright at one stage locked the store and ordered the persons to leave so that she could count the money but Smit later broke in and attacked her.

Three psychiatrists declared Smit fit to stand trial despite his substance abuse problem.

Clinical psychologist Dr J C Coetzee said in a report Smit claimed he could not remember what exactly happened that night.

He could only remember falling hard after climbing over the fence at a park, running, hiding in the tennis club and being surrounded by blue lights and arrested.

He passed out at the police station and was going through withdrawal symptoms when he woke up.

Smit started drinking at a very young age, and later also started abusing drugs. He went for rehabilitation in 2011 but soon started drinking again. He was arrested for drunk driving the weekend before the murder.


Clinical psychologist Claire Hearne testified that Smit was addicted to alcohol and methcathinone (CAT) at the time of the incident.

He was adopted at 18 months but his biological parents were both addicts who died of substance-related causes.

She said Smit did not consider the consequences of his actions at the time of the crime, which appeared to have been influenced by his drugged state.

He was presently in remission under controlled circumstances in prison, but Hearne said she regarded him as a risk to himself and others as long as he was under the influence of substances.

Judge Nico Coetzee sentenced Smit on Thursday to a total of 30 years imprisonment on charges of murder and housebreaking, but ordered that he must effectively serve 20 years of his sentence.

He said there were compelling reasons to deviate from the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment because Smit had been under the influence of alcohol and drugs, was relatively young and had pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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