Child abducted and killed laid to rest in private funeral ceremony

Gino van der Straeten was buried on Tuesday during a private service. The funeral was beautiful and dignified, but also very sad, a spokesperson for the family said on Wednesday.

The boy disappeared on the evening of June 1 when he was playing football in Kerkrade. A few days later he was found dead behind a burned-out house in Geleen. The police arrested a 22-year-old man from Geleen hours earlier. He is suspected of kidnapping and murdering the boy.

Van der Straeten lived in Maastricht with his mother. However, she was unable to care for him due to an unstated illness, so she sent the child to stay with one of his older sisters in Kerkrade. He was in Kerkrade for just a week when he disappeared.

The suspect, Donny M., is scheduled to appear in a Maastricht courtroom on Thursday for a hearing about pre-trial detention. He can be jailed for up to 90 more days during the hearing, which can then be extended further.

M. was convicted seven years ago for attempted manslaughter, it emerged on Wednesday. On 29 September 2015, the court found it proven that he had thrown a paving tile off a viaduct in Sittard on 16 April of that year. The tile landed right in front of a passing motorist’s vehicle, the court confirmed after it was reported by De Limburger.

In that case, the Public Prosecution Service demanded 180 hours of community service, 100 of which were suspended. The court sentence was lighter, because Donny M. had no criminal record at the time, and that he had expressed regret and was seen as not fully accountable.

A psychologist considered the boy to have an intellectual disability and impulse control problems. He diagnosed the boy with an autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the psychologist, the boy was very vulnerable and had difficulty learning. Thus, he was less culpable for throwing the tile the psychologist said. The court accepted that advice.

“He is very dependent on guidance and supervision and can act impulsively at times when this guidance is not available. It is very likely that the suspect’s disorder determined his choices at the time the crimes were committed,” according to the court, who sentenced the boy to 100 hours of community service, 50 of which were suspended, with two years of probation.

That probation period was still in effect when the boy allegedly committed another crime for which he was convicted. On June 28, 2017, he assaulted two children, ages 10 and 7, and sexually abused one of them. The lawyer for one of the victims, Phil Boonen, recently confirmed this. For these criminal offenses, the court sentenced him in 2017 to almost five months in juvenile detention and clinical treatment at an institution in Eindhoven for the treatment of mental health issues in patients up to 23 years old. He was also placed in a juvenile detention center for three years.

Donny M. was also caught in 2015 in possession of a flashlight in the shape of a club. He was not convicted for that. The court believed his story that he was unaware that the flashlight could also be used as a weapon.

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