The indictment alone is terrifying. A man breaks into a ten-storey apartment building. Filming with his phone, he forces the residents to hang over the balustrade. He grabs one of them by the scruff of the neck and threatens to throw him down. Back in the living room, he puts the two face against the wall under threat of firing. The students hand over their watches and phones as the intruder yells, “I’m going to rape you.”
This horrifying horror scenario lasts 37 minutes, according to the filming. The suspect has deliberately deprived the two friends of their freedom against their will for just as long, the public prosecutor reproaches him. “A serious and bleak fact and insanely intimidating.” A student was punched and his lower jaw was bruised. “I feared for my life” when I hung over the railing, he says in a victim statement, “and I am still terrified every day despite EMDR therapy.”
The public prosecutor has brought the suspect in. A hipster in a purple checked suit on shiny Dr. Martens, the face full of tattoos. His name is Stefano and he was sitting on the scooter, he says, his dog was walking next to it, when a clatter sounded on the sidewalk at the Utrecht flat. Students are living there pending demolition. “I saw a boy throwing planks down. I filmed that and I went to get a story.” Dogo Canario Chayenne had glass in her paw already four times.
How did that “get the story”, Stefano’s chairman wants to know.
“I walked in and really scared the boys. I threatened to feed them to the dog. I had them watch what they were flickering. But I didn’t want to give them flying lessons.”
“Did you say, ‘If I bring my friends in, you’ll be down in a body bag in a minute’?”
Stefano slides a pillow into his back. He lost his colon after surgery. “No idea,” he replies.
“Did you say, ‘If I film you and rape you, I’ll get 80,000 euros for it’?”
“Could be. I had drunk and swallowed a lot – two bottles of wine and steroids and medicines. †
“We do not take that into account. Addiction is something you do to yourself. Is it true that the boys had to sit in front of the wall?”
“Yes. On their knees, with their backs to me. If I could put a plank against them, they thought it was a gun.”
“Did you say you would shoot them?” Again the shoulders go up. “That was never my intention.”
“How did it end?”
“When I thought: they understand me. Then I left.”
The intruder was wearing an ankle bracelet, the students said. They faced “a crazy person who wanted to chop us up and kept threatening.” What do you do to such an unpredictable guest?
“The friends could have taken the strollers,” says Stefano’s lawyer. He speaks of “serious ongoing threat.” He asks for an acquittal for unlawful deprivation of liberty.
The officer disputes that. Leaving – or rather: fleeing – was not an option for both boys. If one ran off, the other would be caught. They had nothing to say, the intruder determined everything. “My compliments for how calm and quiet the students have remained. As a result, there has been no escalation.”
Stefano, cook by profession, does things without thinking beforehand, write a psychologist and a psychiatrist. He is a ‘borderliner’ with PTSD and ADHD. To numb the pain, he grabs the bottle. Alcohol further lowered his ‘impulse control’. The criminal offense can be held against him to a lesser extent. But there’s a good chance he’ll go wrong again. Therefore, he must be treated.
The officer persists in unlawful deprivation of liberty. He demands ten months in prison plus fourteen weeks’ probation, provided the suspect is forced to rehab during that period. That is what the probation service advises, Stefano himself wants, and ultimately that is what his lawyer wants too. Stefano: „I don’t have to worry about cell now. I want my stoma back and I need treatment for my addiction.” Counsel: “It will not be possible without a conviction from the court.”
But such a low prison sentence the court finds “inappropriate”, having regard to ‘the seriousness of the offence, the consequences for the victims and the signal sent by the punishment’. Stefano gets twelve months in prison, the last three months he has to rehab in a clinic. After that, he can be treated from home under the supervision of the probation service.
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