The mother of an eight-year-old girl who fell to her death from a tower block has gone on trial for killing her following a campaign by her father to reopen the case.
Police initially concluded there was no evidence that the girl, named only as Sharleyne, had been the victim of a crime when she fell from the 10th-floor balcony in Hoogeveen three years ago.
But her father, Victor Remouchamps, told NOS he was immediately suspicious because just a few weeks earlier he had warned youth care services that she was in danger and implored them to remove her from the house.
‘And then she was found at 1.30 in the morning beneath the flats. Dead, with a teddy bear beside her.’
After the couple separated in 2011 Sharleyne’s mother, Hélène J. was reported to social services for alcohol abuse, neglect and domestic violence and relied on family support workers.
Remouchamps spent hundreds of hours going over files and contacting experts to gather evidence against J., who he believes tried to strangle the girl before pushing her off the balcony.
‘The justice officials told me at first that my eight-year-old daughter might have committed suicide,’ he said. ‘When I read the files later I was enraged. There were no signs she had climbed over the railing or out of the window, and there were indications that evidence in her bedroom had been staged.’
Remouchamps took his case to the court of appeal, which ordered the prosecution service to reopen the investigation. Two years after Sharleyne’s death, Heleen J. was arrested and named as a suspect for the murder or manslaughter of her daughter.
J., 38, told the district court in Assen on Wednesday that she first knew something was wrong when she went into her daughter’s bedroom in the early hours of June 7 and saw the window open.
Her father said his determination to had taken over his life. ‘This has cost me my job and my career, but it was either one or the other. The only thing I want is to restore her name. Justice.’