'Demon boy' gets 20 years for hacking his family to death

2015-05-22 20:32

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Pretoria - A teenage boy who hacked four of his family members to death with an axe, claiming he was possessed by a “demon” when he did it, was on Friday sentenced to 20 years effective imprisonment.

The boy was 14 years old when he hacked his mother, 42, grandmother, 58, brother, 5, and 4-month-old baby sister to death with an axe.

He pleaded guilty to four charges of murder.

Pretoria High Court Judge Hennie de Vos sentenced him to 20 imprisonment on each of four charges of murder, but ordered that the sentences must run concurrently and be backdated to the date of his arrest in May 2013.

The boy said in a statement that he and a friend had performed a satanic ritual a few days before the murders and smoked dagga on the day of the incident.

He had attacked his family members after hearing a voice in his head calling out “kill them, kill them”, was very angry and felt he was possessed by a demon, he said.

Occult crimes expert Dr Kobus Jonker testified that there was no proof that Satanism had played a role in the commission of the crimes, although it could not be excluded that the boy had participated in some kind of satanic ritual.

Experts testified that the boy came from a poor background, with his family surviving on a disability grant.

His grandmother and mother often beat him because they apparently did not approve of his friends and his involvement in a musical group.

De Vos said in a written judgment that the accused's mother and grandmother had begged for their lives.

He killed his brother and when the community wanted to intervene, fetched his 4-month-old defenceless baby sister and ran with her into the veld. He brutally killed her with an axe, probably the same size as the baby, and left her body to be discovered.

Severe and vicious attack

It appeared from post mortem reports that the attacks on the brother and baby were more severe and vicious than that on the mother and grandmother.

When a meeting was arranged with surviving family to reach out to him, the accused made demands for branded clothing and did not express remorse or empathy towards the victims of these heinous crimes.

De Vos said no other inference could be drawn than that the boy knew exactly what he was doing when he carried his baby sister with him.

“The accused took revenge on the people who, according to his version, abused him.

“He probably killed his brother and sister as a result of his jealousy towards them.

“The murders were committed out of the accused's need to satisfy his own selfish wishes for freedom.

“His peer group influenced him negatively, as it was reportedly indicated that if he kills his family he will receive money, success and power due to his involvement in Satanism.

“The accused showed neither mercy nor any call of conscience towards his family when committing the crimes.

“The neighbours confirm that [he] was disrespectful to his family and towards other people. He did as he pleased.

“... It is not safe for [him] to return to the community. The community was traumatised and promised to take matters into their own hands if... the accused is released from prison,” he said.

Experts were adamant that the accused had strong underlying feelings of anger and aggression. He was diagnosed with conduct disorder.

Psychological tests placed him in the high risk category of violence and there was a high probability that he might engage in violent behaviour in the future.

A neglected child

De Vos found in mitigation that the boy was a neglected child who grew up under very poor conditions, did not receive the necessary care or discipline and that dagga might be the cause for the violent outburst.

“Murder is a prevalent offence in South Africa and juvenile offenders must realise that society is entitled to be protected against people such as the accused.

“... Many South Africans are living under poor conditions, have little access to welfare and have to fight a constant battle to survive.

“Notwithstanding the present state of poverty in the country, the community always placed an exceptionally high value on the protection of one's own family.

“The accused deliberately disregarded the well-being of his family and killed them in cold blood in the hope that he will be able to pursue his own interests.

“The reasons forwarded... for killing his family seems to be so outrageous that no or little reliance can be placed on it.

“The probabilities support the view that he killed his family because he was angered and jealous and refused to be disciplined,” De Vos said.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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