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2023-03-13 at 18:34 #396737Nat QuinnKeymaster
In January this year, farm worker Jeremy Sias was found not guilty of the 2019 murder of horse rider Meghan Cremer, shocking many followers of the case.
Sias’ recorded confession about killing Cremer and pointing out her body to police after a five-day manhunt, were thought to be damning evidence.
The footage displayed in court shows Sias hunched over in a dense bush in Philippi, Cape Town, in August 2019, pointing out Cremer’s bound body to police before crying and saying “I didn’t mean to kill her”.
His sentencing proceedings were set to begin on Monday in the Cape Town high court, however the proceedings will go ahead tomorrow.
The crime on August 3 2019
Cremer was set to spend a relaxing night in with her dog on Saturday August 3 2019. But at 6.45pm her car was seen on CCTV leaving her cottage and driving towards the bottom gate of the farm. It is unclear who was driving the vehicle. The next day she didn’t arrive for work and a missing person’s case was reported.
Two days later, two men allegedly affiliated to gangs in Grassy Park were caught driving her white Toyota Auris without number plates. They told police they got the car from Sias, leading police to arrest him.
Sias at first denied stealing the car and handing it over to the two men, but three days later he would lead police to her body, and confess to her murder and theft of her car, bank cards and phones.
Despite this evidence, he would be acquitted of Cremer’s murder in January by judge Elizabeth Baartman.
Meghan Cremer murder: The investigation into the suspects
Sias was employed on the farm where Cremer rented a cottage and resided roughly 500m away in an informal settlement.
He testified he had worked the day of Cremer’s disappearance, left the farm at 5pm, drank five 750ml bottles of beer and returned to the farm’s bottom gate two hours later at 7pm to fetch dog food when he noticed a car parked with the keys in the ignition.
He said he did not recognise it was Cremer’s car, that he took it for a “joyride”. While driving he found a handbag under the seat containing cellphones and bank cards belonging to Cremer.
He picked up his friends staying in Egoli informal settlement. They asked who’s car he was driving, to which he responded that the owner’s son had lent it to him.
They stopped at shebeens and he said he “guessed” Cremer’s pin in order to use her bank card to buy KFC and draw money at an ATM.
Sias said at some point during the raucous evening, he went to open the boot of the stolen car and that’s when he saw Cremer’s body inside. Startled, he consumed more alcohol and dumped the body in secluded bushes before attempting to sell the vehicle.
He said he didn’t want to go to police or tell his employer about the incident because they might “see him in a bad light”.
Two days later, after the two men driving Cremer’s car were caught by police, Sias was arrested.
He alleged police assaulted him and coerced him to confess to murdering Cremer and point out the body, saying the police told him “he would receive bail and a short prison term” if he confessed.
It was this trauma of assault and interrogation that led him to show police where Cremer’s disposed body was located and say he “didn’t mean to kill her”.
Cremer had a blue ribbon around her hands and neck and her death was found to be due to ligature strangulation. She had also sustained a blow to the face. The blue ribbon was reportedly the same ribbon she used to make horse ribbons in her cottage.
Murder accused Jeremy Sias’ first day in court for horse rider Meghan Cremer’s trial
A key factor in Sias’ acquittal of murder was testimony by Cremer’s friend and owner of the farm where she was renting the cottage, Linda Mohr. Mohr said Cremer saw her as her second mother and they were close.
Mohr was originally meant to testify for the state, however when the state rested its case without calling Mohr, she contacted Sias’ defence council Bashier Sibda, saying she had evidence to share.
Mohr and her son James, also a friend of Cremer, took the stand as defence witnesses and said Cremer had lost a lot of weight before her death, had large amounts of cash on hand and had been leaving the farm at odd hours leading up to her death.
WhatsApp messages between James and Cremer were shown in court where Cremer joked with him, saying she had done too much cocaine the night before. See below.
The insinuation seemed to be tha there could have been a drug dealing angle to her death. This came as a shock to other friends of Cremer who said she was introverted, kind and would never get involved in drug dealing.
However Mohr said, “I am here to get the truth and nothing else,” when questioned by prosecutor Emily van Wyk as to her reasons for testifying for the defense.
In Baartman’s judgment, she pointed out how important Mohr’s testimony was to her findings.
“Ms Mohr was a credible witness and displayed a commitment to ‘fair play’ that was remarkably absent in some officers who were involved in this matter. Although she thought the accused’s dealing with the deceased’s body reprehensible, she wanted justice done.”
Baartman handed down her judgment on January 26, finding Sias’ confession to murdering Cremer ‘unsustainable’ due to the alleged assault allegations made by Sias against police, among other factors.
Despite several police officers testifying they did not assault Sias, Baartman gave credence to the abuse allegations, saying: “There is a reasonable possibility the utterances [Sias’ confession] were made in response to an assault and are irredeemably tainted by the assault. It follows that the state’s reliance on the utterances [Sias’ confession] as evidence that the accused murdered the deceased is unsustainable.”
Baartman said the prosecution withheld certain evidence that could have benefited Sias in the trial and that the state did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, leading Sias to walk free of a murder conviction.
“The prosecution and the investigating team are reminded they ought to be in pursuit of the truth and should not attempt to usurp the court’s function. The result of that attempt has caused great injustice instead of advancing a just outcome in these proceedings.”
Baartman did, however, find Sias guilty of the theft of Cremer’s vehicle and credit card and he was found guilty of defeating the ends of justice by “destroying items which belonged to the deceased, cellular phones and throwing the iPhone in the toilet to avoid detection by the authorities”.
Prior charges and sentencing
Sias had an assault charge and a pending car theft case before Cremer’s killing.
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