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Appeal Court upholds 14.5-year prison sentence for killer convicted over drowning deaths

The defendant’s defence lawyer had called for the sentence to be rolled back, however the prosecution wanted additional sentencing over two further cases of attempted manslaughter.

Pekka Seppänen oikeudessa.
Image: Matti Myller / Yle

The Eastern Finland Court of Appeal has upheld a 14.5-year prison sentence imposed on a Kontiolahti man for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.

The sentence was previously handed down to Pekka Seppänen in 2017 after he was found guilty on two counts of manslaughter and three of attempted manslaughter.

In its ruling on Tuesday, the appeal court further ordered the defendant to serve the entirety of his sentence in prison, meaning he will not be eligible for parole. However Seppänen will be able to seek probationary leave once he has served five-sixths of his prison term. This approach is usually reserved for convicts who are determined to pose a danger to other prisoners.

In January last year, the district court found the 52-year old defendant guilty on two counts of manslaughter and three of attempted manslaughter, as well as aggravated involuntary manslaughter, abandonment, alcohol offences, pimping and assault.

The only change that the appeal court made to the sentence of the lower court was with regard to the damages to be paid to relatives of two of the victims.

Psych exam: Defendant an extreme danger to others

The defence appealed the verdict and sentencing, with Seppänen firing his attorney and hiring new counsel before the appeal court hearings. The defendant also protested his innocence throughout the entire proceedings.

For its part, the prosecution appealed the district court’s decision to throw out two indictments on attempted manslaughter. The team also sought stricter sentencing regarding two other counts of involuntary manslaughter as well as the charges concerning pimping and alcohol offences. Altogether the prosecutor called for a 15 custodial sentence for Seppänen.

The appeal court ruled that based on its evaluation of the evidence presented, there was no need to revisit the decision of the lower court.

Last week, the appeal court also released the results of a psychiatric examination on the defendant. The report indicated that Seppänen criminally liable for his actions; in other words, he was aware of the consequences of his deeds. The National Institute of Health and Welfare, THL, concluded that Seppänen is extremely dangerous to the lives and well-being of others.

Seppänen can apply for leave to appeal the decision and it is therefore possible that the case may go before the Supreme Court

The series of crimes took place between 2007 and 2014 and shook the local community. Police re-opened the cases for active investigation in 2015.

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