Wednesday 05 October 2022

Man cleared of murdering girlfriend 20 years after conviction

A gavel in a courtroom.

Photo: Depositphotos

A court in Arnhem has acquitted a man imprisoned for 14 years over the killing of his girlfriend in a flat in Rosmalen in 2000.

In a case that became known as the Rosmalense flat murder, 34-year old Regie van den Hoogen was found dead after her throat had been sliced with a bread knife. Police immediately suspected her live-in boyfriend, Rob B., who had a history of mental problems.

After B.’s lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court in 2016, a new assessment was conducted by the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Prosecutors became convinced van den Hoogen’s death was a suicide and requested the court revisit the case.

‘There are no more concrete and convincing indications that the suspect was involved,’ the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal wrote in its verdict.

Relief
The now 64-year-old expressed relief at the ruling. ‘He’s very happy. It’s finally over,’ his lawyer, Pieter van der Kruijs, told broadcaster NOS. For the past two decades, Rob B. had maintained his innocence.

In 2004, Rob B. was convicted of the killing by the Den Bosch district court and, on appeal, sentenced to 10 years of compulsory psychiatric treatment (TBS). His TBS ended in 2017 but he still resides in a psychiatric clinic.

‘Reasonable doubt’
In 2012, a group of students from VU University in Amsterdam involved in the Gerede Twijfel project, or reasonable doubt project, began to look at the evidence in the case. The NRC asked the group to revisit their conclusions 10 years on.

‘We asked dozens of people to demonstrate with a ruler how they would cut their throat, or how they would cut someone else’s throat. Everyone did it differently,’ one of the students, Danaé Stad, told the NRC.

In 2015, together with Peter van Koppen, who leads the Gerede Twijfel project, Stad published a book about Van den Hoogen’s death called ‘Het likkende hondje’, or The Licking Dog. The title refers to the couple’s pet dog, Shadow, who had licked some of the blood at the scene.

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