Lion trial: Killer has 'good attributes'

Mark Scott-Crossley, who threw a man to lions to die, was not a bad person, the Phalaborwa Circuit Court heard on Thursday.

“He [Scott-Crossley] has got good attributes,” his counsel Johann Engelbrecht SC told Judge George Maluleke.

He was speaking during closing arguments in the deliberations on the sentence Scott-Crossley should receive for masterminding the murder of Nelson Chisale, who was assaulted then fed to lions in Hoedspruit in January last year.

“He had a life in which trauma existed. I can appreciate the guilt felt by the accused for the disappearance of his sister: ‘Had I gone with [her], this would not have happened’,” Engelbrecht told the court.

Scott-Crossley is the brother of Tracy Lee Scott-Crossley, one of six schoolgirls who disappeared in 1988 and 1989 shortly before paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his lover Joey Haarhoff committed suicide in a police chase.

The court should bear this in mind, Engelbrecht said.

“Whether Gert van Rooyen abducted that little girl or not is immaterial. The fact is that little girl disappeared and has not been seen since.
The perception of the accused is that he is to blame and I cannot fault him for that.”

Engelbrecht said this was the reason behind his divorce, as he had been overprotective of his own son.

A previous conviction for the theft of a spare wheel was not a crime of violence, he argued, and had taken place a long time ago.

Scott-Crossley had not brushed with the law since then.

“My submission is that he should be treated as a first offender. He has good human qualities. He is good human material. This must receive cognisance from the court,” Engelbrecht said.

He told the court that, on the probabilities, Scott-Crossley was unlikely to offend again. His record during his stint in the army also indicated he did not have a bad nature.

“I submit that up to now the accused has not shown a disposition to violence, save to protect the honour or dignity of other persons.

“I submit that, taking everything that has so been argued into account, that the perpetration of any crime of violence by the accused in the future is remote,” Engelbrecht argued.

He further argued that the removal of Scott-Crossley from society would deprive the country of an asset. “A developing country like South Africa needs a person like Scott-Crossley in the field. In prison those attributes are lost to the country.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mduduzi Thabede, appearing for Scott-Crossley’s partner in crime Simon Mathebula, submitted that society could be protected without sending him to jail for a long time.

He appealed to the court to take into account the fact that Mathebula was a first offender and had already been punished through the expulsion of his family from their community.

Chisale’s niece had told the court that she had forgiven him. “I take it she [said] that on behalf of the family,” Mduduzi told the court. - Sapa

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