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28s gang case: State dismisses child's letter as hearsay

The letter was read by her grandmother as part of Derrick Claasen’s argument in mitigation of sentence.

FILE: The prosecution in the trial against 17 convicted gangsters has dismissed as hearsay a heartfelt letter apparently written by a daughter, pleading for a lenient sentence for her father. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The prosecution in the trial against 17 convicted gangsters has dismissed as hearsay a heartfelt letter apparently written by the daughter of one of the gangsters in which she pleads for a lenient sentence for her father.

The letter was read by her grandmother as part of Derrick Claasen's argument in mitigation of sentence.

Last week, Judge Chantel Fortuin found Claasen and fellow gang member Peter McNeil guilty of the murder of a state witness in 2008.

Family members of the two convicted gangsters tried to convince the court they were model members of society and breadwinners in their homes.

Convicted gangster Ronald Swarts's wife, Bronwyn, testified he was a good husband and father.

The only other witness on Wednesday, Wendy Eksteen, claimed her 11-year-old granddaughter is on medication due to the trauma of her father's arrest in 2008.

Eksteen told the court Claasen was a good standing member of the Roman Catholic Church who supported his family and community.

Eksteen said, "I don't know what the court's decision is but I hope he will get out of this court as a free man."

Claasen dropped his head and fought back tears while listening to the testimony.

He faces a minimum of a life sentence for the murder of state witness Haywin Strydom.