Zephany snatcher’s defence witness is grilled



August 2, 2016
Zephany snatcher’s defence witness is grilled

TESTIFY: Psychologist Mark Steyn

The clinical psychologist in Zephany snatcher's sentencing was the defence’s only witness.

The state prosecutor has ripped into the testimony of a clinical psychologist who testified in mitigation of sentence for the woman convicted of kidnapping baby Zephany Nurse from her hospital bed almost two decades ago.

Mark Steyn, who spent about 16 hours in Pollsmoor prison interviewing the Seawinds woman, was the defence’s only witness.

But Steyn’s testimony crumbled under cross-examination when State Prosecutor, Advocate Evadne Kortje, questioned the validity of his report.

Steyn said the accused felt that she had been unfairly convicted and that she was “only guilty of raising and not stealing” Zephany.

The woman saw herself as a maternal figure, with even some Pollsmoor bandiete calling her “ma”.

“She said one of the women even asked her to adopt her son,” Steyn claimed.

The accused felt an injustice was done to her and was angry with the media for “telling lies about her”.

He admitted that she showed no remorse, but cited a 17-page history of regular beatings by her first husband, abandonment by her mother at the age of 12, and a pregnancy at the age of 16 where the baby died at five weeks old.

But Kortje questioned the relevance of these details and accused the psychologist of trying to paint the accused as the victim.

“You want this court to feel sorry for the accused, you’re making your conclusion favourable to the accused,” she said.

Kortje accused Steyn of not dealing with the accused’s manipulative nature, a trait she says features in the profile of three types of women who steal babies.

“She lied to her husband, she manipulated him. She lied to her sisters, she manipulated her loved ones.”

Kortje also said Steyn had not done a risk assessment to determine whether or not she would re-offend.

“You did not deal with deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation and you did not test for cognitive distortions,” she said.

Cognitive distortions are the justifications that people make to convince themselves they are not guilty.

They include denial, blame and minimising.

Kortje also got the psychologist to admit that this pre-sentencing report was his first, wherein he refers to Zephany as the “de-facto” daughter of the accused.

“I apologise for the wording,” he said sheepishly.

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