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Court finds driver guilty in fatal Helsinki hit-and-run

A man who killed a woman and injured several other people by running them down with his car last summer is to receive mental health care instead of a jail term.

Syytetty Helsingin käräjäoikeidessa tiistaina 24. lokakuuta 2017
Image: Kai Jaskari / Yle

In July of last year, a 51 year-old man ran down a group of pedestrians on a zebra crossing in downtown Helsinki. One woman was killed and five other people were injured in the tragic incident.

A Helsinki District Court-ordered mental evaluation of the suspect found that he was not responsible for his actions. The evaluation revealed the driver suffered from schizophrenia, which affected his perception of reality and ability to control his actions.

The prosecutor had called for the man to face one murder charge, five counts of attempted murder and an aggravated reckless driving charge.

The defendant had admitted to aggravated manslaughter, five counts of aggravated causation of personal injury and aggravated reckless driving charges.

Court-ordered mental health care

On Tuesday Helsinki District Court ruled that the man should receive mental health care in lieu of a prison sentence. The court found the defendant guilty of the charges he admitted to but, citing the man's mental health evaluation, did not hand down a prison sentence.

According to testimony given by the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, the man was not responsible for his actions and should not be punished.

Instead, the court said in its ruling, the man will receive mental health care at a secure psychiatric unit. The court also ordered the defendant to pay for two of the victims' court costs, amounting to some 10,000 euros.

Two out of the seven plaintiffs in the case had made compensation claims but their requests were rejected by the court. There is, however, the possibility that the District Court ruling could be appealed.

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