Mother gets prison for girl's fatal fall
The court of appeals in Leeuwarden on Monday convicted Helene J. of manslaughter in the death of her 8-year-old daughter Sharleyne in 2015. The woman was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison, ANP reports.
Sharleyne was found dead at the bottom of apartment building De Arend in Hoogeveen, where she lived on the 10th floor with her mother, on 8 June 2015. J. always claimed that she was woken by a draft and found that Sharleyne was not in her bed. She went onto the gallery to check if the girl was walking outside, and saw Sharleyne lying at the bottom of the building. She stuck to this version of events during the appeal trial.
The Public Prosecutor did not believe this account and accused J. of strangling Sharleyne and throwing her off the apartment building. When this case was first tried in 2017 and 2018, J. was acquitted due to lack of evidence. But the appeal court considered it proven that J. is guilty of manslaughter.
The biggest reason for the conviction is a statement made by J.'s upstairs neighbor. In 2015, the man told the police that he had heard a commotion on the night of Sharleyne's death. The commotion was followed by a muffled bang and the sound of something being thrown over the railing. The man's statement was not included in the police file.
When the court heard about the neighbor's testimony in 2017, the judge found it possible that the man's story might have been influenced by the information that had come out in the two years since Sharleyne's death. During the appeal, however, a memory expert determined that the man's statement could be considered reliable. The appeals court accepted this conclusion.