12 years in prison for sexual assault of Dutch boy found dead in 1998
On Friday the court sentenced Jos B. to 12 years in prison for the sexual abuse and deprivation of liberty of 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen, acts which resulted in the boy's death in 1998. B. was also convicted of the habitual ownership of child pornography, for which he was ordered to serve an additional six months.
He was acquitted of the charge of manslaughter, the court ruled, even though it said the evidence showed that Verstappen's death was unnatural and happened as a result of the commission of a crime. It agreed with expert testimony that said the young boy died from oxygen deficiency as a result of suffocation.
The defense team in the case said they planned to appeal the conviction.
The boy was found dead in the Brunssumerheide woods, where he was on summer camp. During the trial, B. argued that he found the boy's body in the woods, but did not kill him. He said he saw the boy and went to check if he was still alive. He explained that his DNA was on Nicky's body because he straightened the child's clothes. "I could do nothing more for him," the man said about why he then left the child's body in the woods.
The Public Prosecution Service did not believe this version of events. "There is only one suspect and he is not only the suspect, but also the perpetrator," the prosecutor said during the trial. The court agreed, saying that DNA evidence found on Verstappen's pajama pants and underwear showed that the offender had extensive contact with the boy over an extended period of time, and that contact with the injuries to the child's anus demonstrated that he was likely penetrated with the perpetrator's penis or finger.
"Thus, you are the perpetrator of sexual abuse," the court said to B. As for the manslaughter charge, the judge acknowledged that it may have been unintended, and said prosecutors failed to prove the charge. "This acquittal does not mean that B. cannot be blamed for Nicky's death. Without you, without your actions, Nicky Verstappen would have been alive on the evening of August 10, 1998."
"This verdict is actually incorrect on all aspects," said B.'s attorney, Gerald Roethof. He said the court was wrongly swayed by the story the prosecuting attorneys put forward. "'I'm not going to accept punishment for something I did not do.' Those were his words and on that basis I am appealing," Roethof told reporters after the verdict was read.
The Prosecutor described B. as a repeat offender, who abused children in the 1980s and downloaded child pornography. Two witnesses said they saw B. with Nicky on the day of his death.
The cause of the boy's death was never determined with 100 percent certainty, but all natural causes were ruled out, the prosecutor said. Two pathologists who did an autopsy of the boy's body concluded that he was raped before he was killed. Nicky's pajama bottoms and underwear were inside out when his body was found, indicating that he may have been redressed.
The Prosecutor does not know exactly what happened, but this is not necessary to prove B.'s guilt, he said. The suspect's DNA could not have ended up on the boy in an innocent way - his DNA was found in 21 places on Nicky's body and underwear. An expert in the criminal file said that this points to "prolonged and intensive" contact.
B. was arrested two years ago, some 20 years after Nicky was found dead in the Brunssummerheide, where he was on summer camp. A DNA kinship investigation led to the authorities identifying B. as a suspect.