Baby Jamie’s mother sentenced to 20 years for brutal assault and murder
Senior state advocate Cheryl Naidu could not hide her elation as the mother of a three-year-old — identified as “Baby Jamie” or “Baby X” — was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the child’s repeated abuse that ultimately led to the little girl’s death.
Naidu was the lead prosecutor in the case, which has captured Durban’s attention due to the horrific details of the abuse, since the beginning.
The 34-year-old was found guilty in September of the 2014 murder. She appeared in the Durban High Court on Thursday for sentencing.
“It is common cause that the accused has an IQ of 60 and although it has been decided that subnormal intelligence can reduce the brain workings of the offender, the courts are reluctant to give any weight to this factor,” said Judge Mohini Moodley in handing down sentencing.
Moodley said she was satisfied that the mother — who could not be identified to protect the identities of Baby Jamie’s siblings — “did not have subnormal intelligence”.
She added that this was borne out by “her ability to express herself and to comprehend and process the evidence and give appropriate instructions to her counsel that the accused does not have subnormal intelligence”.
The woman’s lawyer, Advocate Murray Pitman, had previously argued that because the accused had been found to be acting at the mental capacity of a 16 or 17-year-old she should be sentenced as such.
The woman and her mother — Baby Jamie’s granny — were arrested in November 2014 for the gruesome assault and torture of the little girl in their Chatsworth home. The abuse led to the child’s death.
During the trial, Dr Sibusiso Ntsele, a specialist forensic pathologist who conducted the post-mortem on Baby Jamie, told the court that the cause of the child’s death was blunt force trauma to the head.
In addition to the murder charge, the pair also faced child abuse, assault and sexual assault charges relating to the girl’s two older siblings, identified only as A and D to protect their identities. The siblings are now nine and 12 years old respectively.
The case took an unexpected turn when the 51-year-old grandmother died at the Westville Prison in April.
Now left to answer for her crimes alone, the woman stood, with her freshly platted braids, cold and unresponsive as Moodley lambasted her for her lack of remorse.
“The accused hasn’t expressed any remorse … and pinned all the offences on accused two [the grandmother],” said Moodley.
During the sentencing, Moodley also came down on social workers and the school the children attended for not noticing the signs of their abuse. One of the children apparently reported the abuse to the school.
“Had the abuse been investigated or reported, the tragic outcome would have been avoided,” she said.
Moodley also thanked both Naidu and Pitman, saying: “This has not been a particularly easy matter of those involved. Thank you for assisting me to arrive at what I think is a fair and just decision.”
Baby Jamie’s mother was sentenced to 12 years in jail for the abuse of the two older children — but since these will run concurrently with the murder sentence, she face an effective 20 years behind bars.