Hewitt has shown no remorse - anti-abuse group

2016-05-03 13:43
Bob Hewitt in court. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

Bob Hewitt in court. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Bloemfontein – Former Grand Slam tennis champion and convicted rapist Bob Hewitt has shown no remorse and should serve his jail sentence, Women and Men against Child Abuse said on Tuesday.

"If you are a rapist, especially raping young children, you deserve life imprisonment, and six years is actually ridiculous for somebody who has raped children. And for him to come here and not show remorse is a problem," operations director Vincentia Dlamini said.

Regardless of his money, power and fame, he was a convicted rapist, she said. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein reserved judgment in Hewitt’s appeal against his sentence.  

His lawyer, Johann Engelbrecht, told the court that the six-year jail sentence imposed on him did not fit the crime.

He was found guilty of raping two young women in the 1980s and sexually assaulting another in the 1990s, while he was their tennis coach.

"The crux of the matter is that age is supposed to be taken into account. Our submission is that the sentence over-emphasises the crime and the retribution," Engelbrecht told the three judges.

Carina Coetzee, for the State, said a six-year sentence was not so bad for someone his age. She argued that, even though Hewitt suffered from a heart condition, he should be in prison where he would get medical attention. 

"These children and their parents believed in him and he also created a relationship with them, so he shouldn’t have taken advantage," she said.

Judge Mandisa Maya said the victims’ psychological trauma had to be considered. She said the trial court could have imposed life imprisonment, considering the nature of the crimes.

In March last year, High Court in Pretoria Judge Bert Bam found him guilty of raping Suellen Sheehan and Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken when they were teenagers in the 1980s, and the indecent assault of a third teenager in the 1990s.

In May, Bam sentenced him to eight years for each of the rapes and two years for the indecent assault. Two years of each rape sentence were suspended for two years, provided he paid a sum of money towards a department of justice programme against the abuse of women and children.

The sentences were to run concurrently.

Bam refused Hewitt leave to appeal his conviction, but granted him leave to appeal the sentences. In doing so, Hewitt risked having a heavier sentenced imposed on him.

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  bloemfontein

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