After hearing arguments on the sentences to be imposed on convicted murderer, Jeffrey Barman, from the defence and the State, Judge Christi Liebenberg indicated he would be ready to hand down the sentence on Monday.
Barman, who denied he had any intention to kill his girlfriend, Melanie Booysen, when he struck her with a glass on her neck on November 10, 2012, was found guilty of murder dolus eventualis, meaning he must have foreseen the consequences of his actions on that fateful day. The incident took place at the victim’s parents’ house, during a party to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
Barman was also convicted of two counts of common assault and one count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
State Advocate Simba Nduna asked the court to impose a sentence that would not only satisfy the interest of society, but would also act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
He said that even though Barman was not convicted of murder with direct intent, the fact remains he caused the death of another human being and robbed his daughter of the chance to know her mother.
Barman’s actions, according to Nduna, showed he was prone to violence, when he went on to stab his cousin after being released on bail.
He asked the court to remove him from society for a long time to protect society from his bouts of violence.
Nduna asked the court to impose a sentence in excess of 30 years for the murder conviction, but left the sentences on the assault charges in the court’s hands.
Willem Visser who represents Barman on instructions of the Directorate of Legal Aid conceded that a custodial sentence is inevitable, but he asked the court to show leniency. He said Barman regretted his actions of that fateful day and was extremely remorseful over the death of the victim.
According to Visser his client did not intend to kill the deceased and his actions were the result of “a spur of the moment” decision.
While he left the sentences to be imposed to the discretion of the court, he did ask the court to consider suspending some of the sentences and to order some to run concurrently. In his judgment Liebenberg described the conduct of Barman as “unexpected and reckless behaviour” when he forcefully struck the victim with a glass on her neck.
According to the judge, this was clearly an act on the spur of the moment and the evidence did not support a finding Barman acted with direct intent.
However, the judge said, the force with which the blow was directed, the position at which it was directed and the fact that a glass is fragile and likely to break on impact and with regard to the injuries inflicted, there could be no doubt that the cumulative effect of those factors would likely result in the infliction of a fatal injury and as such death could be reasonably foreseeable.