Two men, who were sentenced to life in jail for fatally assaulting Stellenbosch University graduate Carl Schoombie in 2015, have failed to convince an appeal court that they deserve a lighter sentence.
Western Cape High Court Judge Nolwazi Penelope Mabindla-Boqwana was not convinced by the arguments of Brent Henry and Juane Jacobs last month that the life terms for murder were disproportionate.
Judges Thandazwa Ndita and Babalwa Mantame, who were on the High Court Bench that heard the appeal, agreed.
In November 2015, Henry and Jacobs, a Muay Thai fighting expert, followed the Uber taxi that Schoombie and his three friends took home after a night out in Cape Town.
They blocked the taxi in a cul-de-sac to target Schoombie, accusing him of starting trouble at Tiger Tiger nightclub in Claremont.
He was kicked and beaten. Schoombie died from a blunt force head injury several days after he was admitted to hospital in a coma.
The pathologist said he had the type of injury usually seen in motor vehicle accidents or in cases in which people fell from considerable heights.
During their sentencing in 2017, Judge Robert Henney described the attack as “brutal, callous, cowardly and dastardly”.
He said there was no basis for the accusation that Schoombie started trouble at the nightclub.
“Although not planned or premeditated, their conduct was brazen and revolting and would have produced a sense of shock in any normal human being,” said Henney.
In his appeal before the full bench, Henry argued that the trial court had disregarded his personal circumstances which included that he was a productive member of society and a first offender.
The father of three also said the court did not take into account his alcohol intake and the role it played in the commission of the crimes, the fact that a fight broke out at the club, that it was a case of mistaken identity and that he was not a violent person.
Jacobs contended that the trial court did not properly take into account that he had bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder and consequently, his “moral blameworthiness”, as well as his alcohol and drug abuse problem.
The appeal judges found that the two showed no remorse for their actions.
“This is one of those cases, in my view, where personal circumstances pale into inconsequentiality when compared to the aggravating factors,” said Mabindla-Boqwana.
Schoombie’s brother Lee told News24 he never doubted the appeal would be denied but was relieved that the chapter could finally “be closed for good”.
“They are exactly where they deserve to be. Knowing that they will never walk the streets again brings comfort, not only to me and my family, but to the other families who know exactly who these guys really are, who know what hurt and pain these cowards have caused in the past and who know all that wasn’t said in court and know exactly what they were capable of.”
He said a lifetime in prison was a small price to pay for the pain and suffering they had caused.
After his brother’s murder, Lee Schoombie created the Carlstrong Foundation.
It was aimed at supporting people dealing with grief, loss and other emotional consequences, such as depression as a result of violent crime.