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Triple murder appeal: 22 years in prison for stabbing dog walkers to death

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The court of appeals in Den Bosch sentenced Thijs H. to 22 years in prison and institutionalized psychiatric treatment for stabbing three people to death while they were walking their dogs in May 2019. The sentence is four years longer than the court in Maastricht imposed in 2020 but lower than the 30 years in prison the Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded, Eindhovens Dagblad reports.

H. confessed to killing a 56-year-old woman in the Scheveningse Bosjes, a wooded area in The Hague, on 4 May 2019. He also said he was responsible for two more murders three days later in Brunssumerheide in Heerlen. A 63-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man died in that attack. He claimed he heard “messages and signals” from television shows, news reports, and vehicle license plates. 

The court of appeal ruled that Thijs H. was only partly under the influence of a mental disorder during the murders. The man was mentally ill, but his actions show that he knew he wasn’t allowed to kill people. According to the court, Thijs H. thought about what he was going to do – he made choices about who to stab, chose to leave his phone at home so he could not be traced, and left this dog at home “because he would get in the way.” This shows he did not act on a whim, which is why the court convicted him of murder. 

“It is horrific how the three victims met their end,” the court said. “They were chosen completely at random.”

In practice, Thijs H. will be in prison much longer than with his previous sentence. The rules for early release changed since the court in Maastricht first sentenced him in July 2020. Previously, a detainee could be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. That meant that H. could have been released after 12 years in prison – two-thirds of the 18-year sentence the court in Maastricht imposed.

But the new rules state that a detainee can only be released two years before the end of their sentence, according to the newspaper. For Thijs H., this means he has to serve at least 20 years of the sentence imposed by the court of appeal on Thursday. 

Thijs H. still has appeal options available to him. 

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