Eersterust bed killer jailed for life

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An Eersterust man who raped and murdered a neighbour and hid her half-naked body under his bed was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.

Jermaine Marbles, 34, was sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria for the August 2011 murder of 18-year-old Novinia Groom at his grandmother’s house in Eersterust.

He was sentenced to a further 25 years for raping Groom and another 18-year-old Eersterust woman a year earlier.

Sentencing Marbles, Acting Judge Johan Kruger said it was an aggravating factor that Marbles was out on bail after raping and trying to strangle the first young woman when he attacked and killed Groom.

Groom’s family welcomed the life sentence imposed on Marbles.

Groom’s mother Valery said Marbles’ sentence would not bring back her daughter, but she was satisfied that justice had prevailed.

She said the family had been traumatised by Novinia’s death and were still afraid of Marbles… “as long as he remains behind bars for 25 years”.

“She was in the bloom of her life. She had her whole life in front of her. She was a lovely girl. She was decent and people loved her,” she said.

Valery Groom had no kind words for Marbles’ family.

“They have no remorse for what he did,” she said.

Marbles’ mother, Louise Liberty, said he was still a “good child” and she did not know what went wrong.

“We will stand by him,” she said.

Marbles, who has been battling an alcohol and drug addiction problem for years, denies that he attacked either of the women, claiming they had consensual sex, and blames someone else for Groom’s murder.

A psychologist testified that Marbles had been raised by his grandparents because his mother had abandoned him and his father never had a job.

He once had a good job as a welder but started using drugs to “cope” with the stress of his three-year-old son almost drowning and later dying, and later holding his dying brother in his arms after a fatal stabbing during a street fight.

The psychologist said Marbles was “not a violent man” and the crimes were out of character and had probably been caused by drugs.

Kruger described the attack on the two small, frail young women as inhumanely cruel, violent and almost animalistic.

He said the first victim was lucky to survive because Marbles had left her for dead after raping and throttling her.

The trauma she suffered was self-evident from a report in which she described paranoia, social isolation, a loss of trust in even those closest to her, an inability to concentrate and contemplating suicide as some of consequences of the attack.

Kruger found that there was no reason to deviate from the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment for the murder, but backdated the sentence to December 2011 because he said there was a chance that Marbles could be rehabilitated.

He had taken into account Marbles’ unstable background, the trauma he had experienced in his life and his attempts to rehabilitate from his drug use, Kruger said.

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