Family relieved as court jails 2 men for life for killing their paraplegic boss in 2016

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Graeme Shellerd. (Supplied)
Graeme Shellerd. (Supplied)
  • A paraplegic man was attacked and killed by three trusted employees.
  • One of the three employees died before the trial got under way. 
  • The crime was committed in 2016 and the men allegedly then fled to Zimbabwe.

The evening of 4 June 2016, when three trusted employees bludgeoned and killed their paraplegic boss, Graeme Shellard, will forever be engraved in his beloved family's minds.

And even though justice has now been served, several years on, that fateful day's events remain a daily trauma for everyone close to him - as they continue to struggle to pick up the pieces.

On Wednesday, in the Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, Judge Maletsatsi Mahalelo sentenced Shellard's killers - Perfect Muleya and Jeffery Mpofu - to life for the brutal murder.

Muleya and Mpofu, both Zimbabwean nationals, were convicted of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder and arson. 

The two men, along with their now-deceased co-accused, Owen Gumbo, were employed by the wheelchair-bound 41-year old Randburg resident.

They used a blunt object to bludgeon Shellard, and to assault his then girlfriend, Leigh Champman.

READ | Three-year wait for family of murdered paraplegic man ends as trial set to get under way

Shellard's body was dragged into the garage on his property and set alight.

Mahalelo sentenced the two men to life for murder, 15 years imprisonment for robbery, six years for attempted murder and seven years for arson. 

The sentences will run concurrently.

They were arrested in 2018 after they had allegedly fled to Zimbabwe following the brutal murder.

Handing down sentence on Wednesday, Mahalelo said the killing was brutal, cruel and uncalled for.

Before being set alight, Shellard was assaulted with a hammer. His belongings, including his vehicle, were also set alight.

Abused trust and no remorse

During the trial, the court heard the accused had been employed by the deceased - one was a driver and the other a cleaner.  

Mahalelo said the accused abused the trust of Shellard and Champman.

Mahalelo said: 

The deceased was wheelchair-bound [and] posed no danger to the accused. He provided the accused with employment... The manner in which the deceased was killed clearly shows that the accused and their companion, Owen, do not value the sanctity of life.

The judge further noted that the accused had shown no remorse during their trial.

Although they had told the court of their circumstances during mitigation and aggravation of sentence, it did not take away from the fact that the accused committed a serious crime, the judge said. 

The court also heard they were first time offenders, and their families back in Zimbabwe depended on them.

"It is my view the seriousness of the offences, and the interest of society, far outweigh the accused's personal circumstances. There are no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a lesser sentence in this case," the judge said.  

Negative domino effect

Shellard's family said they would never recover from the loss.

Speaking to News24, following the sentencing proceedings, Shellard's emotional sister, Carina, said they were grateful for the trial's outcome.

They were, however, still heartbroken and will never get over the manner in which he was killed. 

"The conviction will never be able to take away the pain, trauma and devastation that [the] murder of our beloved Graeme has caused. 

"But it gives us peace of mind that the accused will be behind bars and will not be able to commit another horrific and brutal murder  like this again."

Carina said her brother's killing had a negative domino effect on many of those close to him.

"Today, we give God glory for what he has done and our answered prayers."

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