News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
16 May 2017
5:21 am

Judge dismisses murderer’s appeal against conviction for teacher’s murder 

Ilse de Lange

The schoolteacher’s bloodied body was discovered in her locked flat in Equestrian Estates in Pretoria in 2009.

Picture: Thinkstock

A former caretaker at the German school in Pretoria has lost his appeal against his conviction for the gruesome murder of a young schoolteacher in her flat in Pretoria eight years ago.

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria dismissed the appeal of Gerhard Sippel, 56, against his conviction on a charge of murdering his former lover, Ina Halfter, 28.

The petite blonde schoolteacher’s bloodied body was discovered in her locked flat in Equestrian Estates in Pretoria in 2009, hours after Sippel went to plead with her to take him back.

She had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer and strangled with a rope. Sippel was in July 2011 sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for the murder.

He told the court he had been devastated when Halfter broke up with him and told him she might be pregnant with her ex-boyfriend’s child.

He claimed he had gone to her flat to reason with her but left without seeing her because he decided to commit suicide.

Sippel claimed he did not have a fair trial but Judge Hans Fabricius said it was clear that Sippel’s trial had been substantially fair in all respects.

He said the trial judge’s reasoning for finding that Sippel was the killer could not be faulted.

There was no forced entry into Halfter’s flat and nothing was taken.

Only Halfter and Sippel had the tags and keys. It was common cause that he had entered the estate on the night of her murder.

Moreover, no one else had a motive to kill her.

Judge Fabricius said if Sippel had not killed Halfter, the coincidence would be too considerable to be reasonably possibly true that he just happened to be at her estate roughly at the time she was killed, that she just happened to be killed with a hammer resembling one which he had and a rope which was used at the German school to which he had access.

This, together with blood on Sippel’s T-shirt, the locked security gate at her flat and with nothing having been taken rendered his version so highly improbable that it could not be true, the judge said.

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