Glass vase murder: Family disappointed at killer's 10-year jail term

Reghard Groenewald walking into the Western Cape High Court on Thursday ahead of sentencing (Jenna Etheridge, News24)
Reghard Groenewald walking into the Western Cape High Court on Thursday ahead of sentencing (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

The husband of Durbanville mother Hilary van Rooyen was visibly disappointed in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday morning after he heard that Reghard Groenewald had been sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail for her murder.

Derick van Rooyen frowned and shook his head as Judge Derek Wille handed down the sentence of 10 years for the murder and one year for stealing some of her personal belongings, which would run concurrently.

He said the sentence was "heeltemal (completely) inappropriate" and that they were not at peace.

Read: ‘I will never be able to forgive him, he took away my life’ – husband of murdered Durbanville mom

The deceased's mother from the UK, Lilian Fielden, was also shaken and too emotional to comment.

She unrolled a poster of her daughter, remarking how beautiful and lovely she had been.

Groenewald was convicted of murdering Hilary, his friend's mother, in her Durbanville home two years ago. He claimed she had come on to him and that an argument had ensued when he rejected her.

'Emotionally overwhelmed'

He alleged that he had hit her with a vase when she had held on to him and she threatened to tell everyone he had tried to rape and assault her.

Wille said in his judgment that Groenewald had become severely "emotionally overwhelmed" immediately before the unwarranted attack.

He had specifically refrained from making a finding on what precisely occurred prior to the attack, "in so far as this may, or may not, be connected to any relationship that may, or may not have existed, between the offender and the deceased".

"To my mind, to make such a finding would serve no purpose, would do more harm than good, is not necessary and in any event irrelevant for the purpose of imposing the appropriate sentence upon the offender."

The court found that Groenewald's emotional state and emotional immaturity carried enough weight to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for murder.

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)
Lilian Fielden holds up a poster of her murdered daughter (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

No true remorse

"The offender did not go to the home of the deceased in order to murder her. He dealt with the situation in which he found himself 'poorly' which had devastating consequences for the deceased's family," said Wille.

"The murder of the deceased was tragic and totally unnecessary. The offender was ill-equipped to deal with the dilemma that unfolded before him in an emotionally mature fashion."

This was a factor that weighed heavily in his favour.

The court noted that he had not shown true remorse, which again pointed to "a poor level of emotional intelligence".

At the same time, Wille said he had to be mindful that there was a good prospect that Groenewald may become reformed and may be rehabilitated "and once more, may become a useful member of society".

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