South Africa 7.11.2018 12:18 pm

Courtney Pieters accused Mortimer Saunders found guilty of rape and murder

Murder accused  Mortimer Saunders enters the Cape Town High Court where he will stand trial for the alleged murder and rape of 3-year-old Courtney Pieters of Elsies River. Picture: Noor Slamdien/African News Agency/ANA

Murder accused Mortimer Saunders enters the Cape Town High Court where he will stand trial for the alleged murder and rape of 3-year-old Courtney Pieters of Elsies River. Picture: Noor Slamdien/African News Agency/ANA

He will be sentenced on 4 December.

Judge Babalwa Mantame during the reading of her judgment in the Courtney Pieters murder trial in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday said the only conclusion that could be drawn was that self-confessed child killer Mortimer Saunders had raped his victim.

Mantame said an explanation had been put forward that the multiple injuries to the opening of the toddler’s vagina could possibly have been caused by blunt force trauma, but this was rejected.

“If the accused’s explanation could be accepted, then where did the semen in the deep vaginal vault come from? There could be two reasons, this could be penile penetration or contamination,” Mantame said.

However, she said it was highly improbable that the semen came from Saunders’ fingers and that the only conclusion that could be drawn was that Saunders penetrated the toddler with his penis.

“The accused was the last person to see the deceased alive. The only inference to be drawn is that the semen belonged to the accused,” said Mantame.

Judgment began in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday as Judge Mantame read through evidence and statements that was brought before the court during the trial.

Saunders was arrested in May last year after the body of three-year-old Pieters was found in Epping Industria, nine days after she was reported missing from her Elsies River home.

Saunders denied raping the girl before she died, but admitted to necrophilia. He also claimed she died after he fed her ant poison because she had been disturbing him at the house he shared with her and her family.

“In conclusion, after careful consideration of the totality of evidence that was presented in this court, this court is therefore satisfied that the state has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. And the result? You are found guilty on count one – that is rape on the main count,” ruled Mantame.

The court erupted in applause as the judge read out her findings.

Saunders was also found guilty of premeditated murder.

The matter has been postponed until 4 December.

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