State questions credibility of witness

2012-02-20 16:09

Cape Town - The credibility of a criminologist who compiled a pre-sentencing report for taxi driver Jacob Humphreys was brought into question in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway confirmed with criminologist Claire Wolff that she completed her qualification with honours in 2011.

Galloway told the court this meant that Wolff had only been practising for a few months.

She also confirmed that this was Wolff's first testimony in court and only the second time she had written a pre-sentencing report. At this point, the packed gallery broke into whispers.

Humphreys sat quietly through the proceedings with his arms folded, often listening with his eyes closed.

He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

He was taking children to school on August 25 2010 when he stopped at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath, overtook a row of cars, ignored safety signals and proceeded over the tracks.

A train hit the taxi and 10 of the children were killed. Four children were seriously injured.

Wolff said she had compiled a report in mitigation of sentence, but 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," she said.

"I do not believe Mr Humphreys is a danger to society."

  • rofras - 2012-02-20 16:22

    Lets forgive Jacob Humphreys..he is not a bad man like the JHB taxi drivers.

      Daniel - 2012-02-20 16:47

      And if your child was amongst those killed by him? I recall Humphreys was reported to have ignored the boom on several occasions. Anyone with a conscience or a sense of responsibility would never have taken such a reckless chance - let alone doing it repeatedly.

  • rowan.maulson - 2012-02-20 16:23

    Who cares if he's remorseful, or sorry or anything..... (plus I wont' comment on the way you worded that phrase Claire Wolff)... He wilfully chose to ignore the rules of the road and in doing so killed 10 children. He must suffer the full punishment that the law allows.

  • brewster - 2012-02-20 16:24

    It is really not difficult to figure out what he was thinking. Like all taxi drivers they pass indiscriminately and hope they will make it. And if not, somebody up front will make a space to move into and if they don't, just barge into the line - somebody will make space.

  • Desmond - 2012-02-20 16:26

    As he had the arrogance to dangerously jump the line instead instead of waiting for his turn to move, he should be made an example of as these taxi drivers are completely out of order.

  • Deon - 2012-02-20 16:32

    He killed 10 children, he is a danger. At least 20 years, 2 years for each child.

      Stefan - 2012-02-20 17:01

      20 years? are you f#cken insane? You obviously don't have kids,heh? I say at least 20 years x 10....better yet, stone him to death.

  • Hermann - 2012-02-20 16:42

    He was thinking fares and fares only and road safety was the last thing on his mind. Rush drop the kids, pick more fares, rush, etc, etc, we know how the septic circle goes. Claire Wolff obviously does not know the taxi industry.

  • Bernadette Amir - 2012-02-20 17:06

    I applaud him for having remorse, but he should still be punished and my child ain't as cheap as 2 years in prisonment, calculate the life expectancy of each en give him those years to live with what he did. Also most time we blame the drivers sometimes it is the passengers forcing them to do such none sense, thx to the 1 out of a mill who say no 2 da passengers

  • Mzwandile - 2012-02-20 17:11

    No wonder South African took so many years to find its freedom and no wonder we still leave with fear and hatred for each other, its because of the unkindly and inhamun values that poison our society. I think you all need to attend a church gathering and get a lecture from Arch Tutu on forgiveness and reconcilaition because your preachers and parents have totally failed you. My parents can raise from dead if then can see this kind of vermonous culture of lack for forgiveness.

      RobsNormal - 2012-02-20 17:44

      I am not a religious person, but I know one thing. Forgiveness is a rite to be bestowed on a culprit of a crime by the VICTIM. You cannot forgive Jacob Humphreys for his callous act any more than I can. Additionally, the act of forgiveness by anyone related to this tragedy will not somehow remove the terrible consequences of his actions and nor should it be a mitigating factor in the sentence imposed by society for his stupidity.

  • RobsNormal - 2012-02-20 17:11

    We need to be clear here. Jacob Humphreys is not a psychopath. He is not someone who would go out killing people like Son of Sam or Donovan Moodley. He is simply a fool. A fool for thinking he could cross the railway and jump past all those cars and cut a few minutes out of a trip, a fool for thinking that by claiming he has no recollection it would help his case and a fool for thinking that by not meaning to have an accident it makes him any less responsible. The fact is, he did nothing to protect those children's lives and everything to endanger them. He is a fool, and a murderous one at that.

      Barry - 2012-02-21 09:17

      I checked the definition of psychopathy. Mr Humpherys dispalays several if not most of the symptoms. A personality disorder by a pervasive disregard for, or violation of rights of others (passesngers)lack of empathy or remorse, grandosity, selfishness, deceptiveness, impulsiveness, inability to perceive danger and protect oneself. I think were clear.

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