Supreme Court confirms mother's conviction for girl's fatal fall from Hoogeveen flat
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court confirmed the manslaughter conviction of Helene J. for the death of her 8-year-old daughter Sharleyne. However, the highest court reduced J.’s prison sentence by one month because the court sent the case documents to the Supreme Court too late.
In January last year, the court in Leeuwarden sentenced J. to nine years and nine months in prison on appeal. The judges were convinced that she pushed or dropped her daughter from an apartment building in Hoogeveen. The 42-year-old J. denies having anything to do with Sharleyne’s death and appealed to the Supreme Court. Her lawyer argued that there is insufficient evidence.
The Supreme Court assesses whether the lower courts correctly applied the law. The court in Leeuwarden has done so, according to the Supreme Court. The case, therefore, does not have to be retried. That follows the advice the Attorney General gave to the Supreme Court. They also proposed a sentence reduction because the procedure took longer due to the late submission of documents.
It is the second sentence reduction for J. The court had already imposed a lower sentence than the Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded (ten years) due to the long duration of the trial.
Sharleyne was found lifeless at the bottom of the Hoogeveen apartment building during the early hours of 8 June 2015. She lived on the 10th floor with her mother. J. told the court that a draft from an open window had awakened her. She then saw Sharleyne lying at the bottom of the building. J. was arrested outside the building in a confused state and under the influence of alcohol.
The case against J. was initially dropped. But Sharleyne’s stepfather forced prosecution through legal proceedings. Further investigation resulted in J.’s arrest in 2017. The court in Assen then acquitted the mother, but the OM appealed to the court in Leeuwarden. That court convicted her of manslaughter.
J. also appealed against the compensation of 20,000 euros awarded to the stepfather for shock damage. Here too, the Supreme Court ruled against her.
For the stepfather, the Supreme Court ruling is “the end of a long and grueling road to justice for his daughter,” his lawyer Sebas Diekstra said.