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CRIME

Woman pleads not guilty to sledgehammer murder

A woman who beat her partner over the head with a sledgehammer before dumping his body into the sea has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder at Uddevalla District Court on Friday.

The woman, 54, told the court that she picked up the sledgehammer with the intention of handing it over to her 48-year-old boyfriend while the pair were on a sailing trip off the west coast of Sweden.

But as the tool changed hands he accidentally struck himself in the head, she said, banging the back of his head as he fell.

When questioned by police, the woman said that she believed her boyfriend was already dead when she began repeatedly hitting him over the head with the sledgehammer.

“At no point did my client intend to take his life,” the woman’s lawyer, Lennart Borgland, told the court.

But an expert from the Swedish Forensic Science Laboratory (SKL) suggested that fresh evidence obtained from blood samples taken from the scene did not tally with the woman’s version of events.

The suspect gave a calm impression in the courtroom, with her face revealing little emotion. She looked at the pictures presented by the prosecutor but averted her eyes from images depicting the dead man’s injuries.

The pair had been together for 30 years but were in the process of separating when they set out on a sailing trip together in October.

The man had been seeing another woman for the previous four years, a development that had left the 54-year-old in a state of crisis, her lawyer said.

The man had said he was frightened about how the woman would react to the separation.

The woman initially said that her partner had fallen overboard. But significant amounts of blood found on the boat and the injuries on the man’s body, which was found a short while later, led prosecutors to arrest the woman for murder.

CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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