SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A Dutch student has been found guilty of killing three people who were out walking their dogs and will be jailed for 18 years, with compulsory psychiatric treatment starting after six.
Judges in Maastricht also ordered Thijs H to pay relatives of his victims €103,000 in damages. H, who was studying for a Master’s degree in industrial ecology at Delft University, was arrested in May 2019 after police put out a nationwide alert and charged with killing three people – two people found dead on heathland in Limburg and a woman whose body was found in woods near Scheveningen.
After the arrest it transpired H had reported to a clinic in Maastricht seeking help but later left. He was picked up after police circulated a photograph of him taken at the clinic itself. H confessed to the killings but said that he had been instructed by voices in his head to carry out the crimes.
The Pieter Baan psychiatric assessment centre had examined H and said he had a ‘serious psychotic disorder’. The court agreed he was showing diminished responsibility but ruled that had taken deliberate decisions about the killings, such as taking a suitable knife and finding a spot where there were ‘enough people but not too many’.
While he did have psychiatric issues, these were not as serious as portrayed by the suspect, the court said. The prosecution had argued H had exaggerated his condition in an effort to escape jail.