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CRIME

14 years’ jail for mother who murdered four of her babies

A woman on trial in one of Germany's worst infanticide cases was convicted Wednesday of killing four of her babies and handed a 14 year jail sentence.

14 years' jail for mother who murdered four of her babies
The house where the bodies were found. Photo: DPA

Andrea Goeppner, 45, was found to have murdered the four newborns, whose remains were discovered wrapped in towels and plastic bags last year, in a case that has horrified the country.

Her estranged husband, Johann Goeppner, 55, was acquitted on charges of complicity for failing to stop the killings, which took place between 2003 and 2013. Prosecutors at the regional court in the southern city of Coburg had demanded a life sentence for Andrea Goeppner, who was originally arrested on suspicion of killing up to eight of her babies.

Their bodies were uncovered at her home in the small Bavarian town of Wallenfels following a tip-off from a neighbour.

However, prosecutors were unable to pursue murder charges for the other four infants, as one was found to have been stillborn and three were so badly decomposed that it was unclear whether they were viable at birth. Defence lawyers had called for the charges to be reduced to involuntary manslaughter.

'Horror mother'

Presiding judge Christoph Gillot defended the decision to stop short of a life sentence.

“When a case like this is tried, you suddenly have a lot of people who know what the right thing to do is – that a supposed 'horror mother' should be locked away forever,” he said, DPA news agency reported. “But we first must try to understand this behaviour. That doesn't mean justifying it but rather trying to comprehend it.”

Andrea Goeppner confessed during the trial, in a statement read out by her lawyer, to killing several of her babies but added that she could not remember how many. She said she had given birth to each of the eight babies at home alone and had wrapped every infant in a hand towel.

She would promptly suffocate any baby that moved or cried, then place the body in a plastic bag or container and hide it in the apartment. The couple had each brought two children into the marriage and conceived three more surviving children together.

Even though they did not want any more children, they used no contraceptives, and Andrea Goeppner was almost constantly pregnant over a decade.

Germany has been shocked by several infanticide cases in recent years. In May 2015, a woman was sentenced to 44 months in prison for killing two of her children and hiding their remains in a freezer. In October 2013 construction workers found the remains of two babies in Bavaria. They had been dead since the 1980s.

And in 2008, a 42-year-old woman was convicted of killing eight of her newborns, then hiding their bodies in buckets, flower pots and an old fish tank.

CRIME

German woman ‘killed lookalike to fake her own death’

A German-Iraqi woman murdered a lookalike she found on social media to fake her own death, police have said as new details emerge of the bizarre case that first came to light last year.

German woman 'killed lookalike to fake her own death'

The body of a 23-year-old woman was found in a car in August at the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt with multiple stab wounds.

Police initially said they believed the victim owned the car, but the next day identified her as someone else who looked “remarkably similar”.

The 23-year-old German-Iraqi and a 23-year-old Kosovan man were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

However, police are now working on the theory the pair murdered the victim after tracking her down online because she looked similar to the German-Iraqi.

“Investigators now believe the female suspect wanted to go into hiding and fake her death due to family problems,” they said in a statement Monday.

She had contacted several women who looked like her via social media and attempted to lure them into meeting her by making “false promises”, the police said.

She contacted the victim in early August and arranged to meet her on August 16.

The German-Iraqi woman and the Kosovan man travelled to the victim’s home in Heilbronn, near Stuttgart, to pick her up.

On the way back to Ingolstadt, they allegedly lured her out of the vehicle in a wooded area and killed her, inflicting “a large number” of knife wounds.

The suspects then continued on to Ingolstadt, where the body was found lying in the car in the evening.

According to the daily Süddeustche Zeitung, the German-Iraqi was a beautician who entrapped the victim via Instagram by offering her cosmetics.

Both women had “long brown hair, a dark complexion and a heavily made-up face”, the newspaper said.

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