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Hughes gets 15 years

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“The sentence I would have imposed would have been not less than 20 years had the accused not already spent more than four years in custody”

AFTER a trial lasting more than four years, a Roodepan man, Randall Hughes, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on charges ranging from theft of a motor vehicle, rape and theft to robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Hughes was sentenced in the Kimberley Regional Court yesterday after he was found guilty on 20 charges.

He was arrested on June 23, 2015 at his house in Roodepan after he pretended to be a good samaritan, who offered lifts to women and in return robbed and raped or attempted to rape them.

Hughes was initially facing 57 charges which were committed on March 23, 2014 as well as on various days from April 6 to June 28, 2015.

Regional Court President, Magistrate Khandilizwe Nqadala, yesterday sentenced Hughes to five years imprisonment for the theft of the motor vehicle, 10 years for rape, three years each on the seven counts of theft, 42 months each on four counts of robbery and another 42 months for robbery with aggravating circumstances, three years for exposure of genitalia, three years for asking an adult to witness self-masturbation, three years for suspected stolen property, 30 months each for attempted kidnapping and sexual assault and a further 100 days imprisonment for displaying of a false motor licence disc.

All the senteces, with the exception of the theft of motor vehicle and rape, will run concurrently.

Nqadala said that had it not been for the time that Hughes had already spent behind bars, he would have given him a longer sentence.

“The sentence I would have imposed would have been not less than 20 years had the accused not already spent more than four years in custody,” he said.

He added that he could find no mitigating circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence on the rape charge.

“The accused showed no remorse for his behaviour. He single-handedly violated the woman. He continues to deny he raped the complainant, who laid a charge of rape against him. It is clear that the accused is protesting his conviction although there is no doubt that he is guilty of the crime.

Nqadala said the aggravating circumstances in the rape charge outweighed the personal circumstances of the accused.

“Two of the crimes, rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances, are so serious that they have a minimum prescribed sentence which cannot be deviated from for flimsy reasons. The fact that the accused took the complainant in the rape charge to a solitary spot where she was defenseless, and raped her before driving off, leaving her behind in a state where she was so confused that she thought a man who assisted her was an accomplice to the accused, bears testimony to the psychological and emotional impact the incident had on the complainant.

“The genitalia of the complainant was swollen, tender and bleeding. The wounds may have healed, but she has been left with the psychological scares as a result of the incident.”

Nqadala added that he did not unfairly sentence Hughes because he failed to show remorse.

“The lack of remorse is not an aggravating factor, but it is, however, a factor to determine whether a person accepts responsibility for the crimes he or she committed. This also refers to the potential risk the accused holds (to others) when he returns to society.”

He added that the accused acted with total arrogance and total disgust in some of the instances.

“With reference to the attempted kidnapping charge, he had the arrogance to pounce on a woman. He grabbed her from behind and tried to push her into his car. It was pure bravery on her part that he did not succeed, but he did rob her of her belongings.

“The complainants were targeted while they were alone. In three of the cases, the victims declined the offered lifts, but that did not stop the accused from robbing them. In one instance, he was on foot and hit the complainant in the face before robbing her of her property.

“By pushing the head of one of the complainants while his penis was exposed, was disgusting to the extreme,” he said, while noting the seriousness of the offences committed.

“These attacks caused the police to run around as the reign of the accused continued. The police said it was difficult to arrest the accused while the incidents must have instilled a sense of fear and vulnerability when it came out that there was someone targeting women who were walking alone.

“It is for this reason that each of these crimes must be treated with the necessary seriousness,” Nqadala concluded.