Swede jailed for child rape 24 years ago in groundbreaking court case

A man has been jailed for attacking and raping an eight-year-old girl on her way home from school 24 years ago, after a law change in how police can use DNA linked him to the scene.

Swede jailed for child rape 24 years ago in groundbreaking court case
The man raped the girl in this forest near Gothenburg over 24 years ago. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The girl had been cycling home from school when she was assaulted and raped by a man in a forest in Billdal, Gothenburg, in September 1995.

It was only earlier this year, 24 years after the crime took place, that the 58-year-old was detained on suspicion of the rape. This followed a so-called 'family search' in the police DNA register, linking him to DNA found on the girl's jumper at the time.

This search was made possible after a law change that came into effect on January 1st this year. It means that DNA traces found at crime scenes can sometimes be used to track down close relatives of possible suspects, something police were previously unable to do.

In the first sentence of its kind since the change, Gothenburg District Court on Tuesday found the man guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced him to six years in jail, according to court documents seen by The Local.

The court wrote it found no reason to doubt that the 58-year-old, who denied the allegations during the trial, was the same rapist whose sperm was found at the scene of the crime.

It added that apart from two separate DNA analyses which both strongly indicated he was the perpetrator, his behaviour when initially approached by police was suspicious.

Police originally found more than 20 profiles that closely matched that of the perpetrator when they scoured their database for the DNA. When officers contacted the 58-year-old for a DNA sample in order to rule him out as a potential suspect he refused to let himself be tested.

A prosecutor then approved a search warrant, but when the man became aware that police were still looking for him, he brought his children to their mother's house and “made himself unavailable”, wrote the court.

“In an overall assessment, the district court finds it has been shown beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is the perpetrator,” it added.

It wrote that the rape ruined the victim's life and gave her serious injuries, stating that the normal punishment would be eight years in jail, but reduced it by two years because of the length of the time that had passed since the crime was committed.

The man's lawyer did not immediately say whether or not they would appeal the verdict.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden needs to do more to convict rapists': Amnesty report

Member comments

  1. 6 years? For raping a child? I am no conservative but that length of sentence is disgracefully short, even by Swedish standards.

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Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

Birgitte Bonnesen, a former CEO of Swedish bank Swedbank, has been acquitted of charges of fraud and sharing insider information.

Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

The ruling from the Stockholm District Court comes four years after the eruption of a money laundering scandal implicating the bank.

In 2019, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT alleged that at least 40 billion kronor (equivalent at the time to $4.4 billion) of suspicious and high-risk transactions had been channelled to Baltic countries, notably Estonia, from Swedbank accounts.

The revelations, which saw the bank’s share price crumble, rendered Bonnesen’s position untenable and she was fired.

Sweden’s financial regulator the following year fined the bank some 360 million euros and warned it to follow anti-money laundering laws.

Prosecutors later charged Bonnesen, accusing her of “intentionally or by aggravated negligence” providing false or misleading information about the steps the bank had taken to prevent and detect suspected money laundering.

Bonnesen, who risked two years in prison, denied all of the charges against her.

The court said that while some of the statements the former CEO made to media outlets had been “unclear and incomplete”, they did not amount to fraud.

“For criminal liability, it is not enough for someone to make a false statement or omit key information,” judge Malou Lindblom said, adding that any statement needed to be sufficient to influence recipients “in a certain direction”.

Bonnesen was also cleared of charges of revealing insider information by informing the bank’s main owners that the investigative documentary was coming.

The court said the former CEO had only revealed what she believed the documentary would cover, which was deemed too “imprecise” to be considered insider information.