Baby killers snap after sentencing

06 March 2013 - 03:00 By SIPHO MASOMBUKA
Marissa Rudman outside the High Court in Pretoria on charges of child abuse and murder.
Marissa Rudman outside the High Court in Pretoria on charges of child abuse and murder.

The parents of baby Wade turned on each other in the Pretoria High Court yesterday with the dead boy's tearful mother cursing her former boyfriend.

"You took my child from me. I hope you burn in Hell," Marissa Rudman yelled at Nolan Schoeman while she was being handcuffed.

Schoeman yelled back: "You did it yourself."

The outburst followed the sentencing of 32-year-old Schoeman to 13 years in jail. He will serve 11 years because he spent two years as an awaiting-trial prisoner.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius sentenced 36-year-old Rudman to 10 years' imprisonment and dismissed her application for leave to appeal the sentence.

Schoeman was found guilty of murder; Rudman of being an accessory to murder.

Baby Wade died in April 2009 after severe physical abuse caused his brain to swell so severely that his skull was pushed apart.

During sentencing, Rudman and Schoeman sat far from each other in the dock, avoiding eye contact. Rudman sobbed throughout.

The court heard that the infant had 22 rib fractures, both forearms were broken, and trauma to his left lung that indicated a severe blow to the thorax.

There were finger marks and bruises on his face, chest and neck. He also had marks on the soles of his feet.

Judge Pretorius said the "innocent" infant was tortured and killed by the people who should have cherished and protected him.

"There was nobody to testify as to his cries and suffering, apart from doctors," she said.

The judge said the court could not believe Rudman's claim of remorse because she maintained that she had not noticed the infant's injuries.

"The court does not find that the accused have genuine remorse - though it seems as if, for the first time during the trial, they have realised the enormity of baby Wade's death," the judge said.

She did not impose the 15-year minimum sentence for the crime because she took into consideration the abusive upbringings of the accused.

Rudman had a "dismal" childhood, was raped in 1994, and became a tik user. Baby Wade was born prematurely after Schoeman kicked her while she was pregnant.

Schoeman, the court heard, was subjected to severe corporal punishment at the hands of his father.