The mother of an eight-year-old girl who fell to her death from a block of flats has been cleared of manslaughter.
The district court in Assen decided there was not enough evidence to prove that Helène J. had strangled her daughter, Sharleyne, just before she fell from the 10th-floor balcony in Hoogeveen.
Prosecutors had demanded a 10-year jail sentence for J., claiming she had dropped or thrown the girl from the balcony. Sharleyne was found lying on the ground beside her teddy bear at 1.30am on June 7, 2015.
Supporters of 38-year-old J. cheered and clapped when the verdict was announced, earning themselves a rebuke from the judge. ‘This concerns an extremely serious and horrifying event,’ she said. ‘A child has died. This sort of reaction is inappropriate.’
The prosecution service initially decided not to charge her mother, but Sharleyne’s father, Victor Remouchamps, successfully challenged that decision in the court of appeal. Remouchamps had also claimed €100,000 in compensation for post-traumatic stress and the cost of bringing the case to court.
Remouchamps, who separated from J. in 2011, said he had told youth care services a few weeks before Sharleyne died that he believed she was in danger and urged them to remove her from the house.
J. had been reported to social services for alcohol abuse, neglect and domestic abuse and relied on family support workers. She admitted to the court she had been drinking on the night her daughter died but said she first knew about the tragedy when she went into Sharleyne’s room in the early hours of June 7 and saw her window open.
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