Zwolle – A year ago, on January 4, a middle-aged man was standing in the Stadshagen Shopping Centre. He addresses young girls and offers them an electric scooter. An eyewitness gives a strange feeling in his stomach. About five o’clock that afternoon, Stijn L. (20) arrived at the mall.
A resident of Zwolle sees the man driving away with three girls, all under the age of ten, one of whom is on a scooter. He hears the man say to the girls, “Come with me, and I’ll show you where I live.” Stijn steps in and asks the guy if he knows the girls. He replied that he was from the Zuiderzee police and that Stegen should not interfere with his work. When the three girls run away, Stegen tells the man, “I think you’re stupid.”
When he goes away, the man comes after him. Stijn gets a big punch in the face. Stijn, in turn, lands three blows. After the final blow, the man falls backwards like a board, his head landing on the sidewalk. The man appears to have sustained a serious head injury. The Public Prosecution Service blames Stijn for this and that is why a resident of Zwolle had to answer himself in court on Thursday.
“What do you think about being here now,” the head of the Multiple Criminal Chamber wanted to know from him. Stegen replies, “It feels incredibly unfair that the case against this guy was dropped and I just wanted to protect these three girls.” He indicates that he deeply regrets the escalation of the situation to this extent. He also feels guilty about the serious injury inflicted on the man.
A medical report is prepared two days after the accident, in which the man suffers from a fracture of his left eye socket, blood in his anterior cavity, multiple hemorrhages between the meninges and the brain, and a cerebral contusion. The man was hospitalized for several days and then to a rehabilitation clinic for several months.
Pictures were found on Stijn’s Instagram account showing him doing kickboxing. Stijn admits he’s been doing this for about two years. The judge asked him if he knew the blows could cause serious injury. Stegen says he did not intend to seriously injure the man. “I was shocked, I was going to leave and I didn’t expect to be attacked.”
Camera footage proves Stijn’s account to be correct. The man hits him first. The presiding judge wants to know if it was a heavy blow. “Yes, it was very hard. I was hit and kicked,” says a resident of Zwolle. “It was a big man who came up to me with long steps. I went with his aggressiveness, which, of course, is not good.”
Stijn tells the judges he has doubts about the injury. The police and ambulance arrived about half an hour later. Paramedics examined the man extensively and saw no injuries. So the man does not have to go to the hospital for further examinations. Stegen’s lawyer later heard the police officer who was first on the scene before the examining magistrate. He also says he did not see any injuries. According to the prosecutor, things went wrong at the police station later that evening.
However, the Attorney General found that legally and convincingly, it was proven that Steen’s three blows caused the head injury. He is pleased with the Zwolle residents’ initial actions. “It was recognisable and might have prevented worse, but we just don’t know.” According to the judge, the police investigations did not prove what the man meant with the three girls. The officer is not satisfied with the violence used by Stegen. “He has a history of kickboxing and should have known he could have caused grievous bodily harm.
The officer believed Stijn had acted out of proportion. “He has gone too far in his defense and the question is whether the defense is necessary.” As far as it is concerned, there can be no question of storm or excess storm. He wants to deviate from the instructions of the Public Prosecution. It provides for an unconditional prison sentence of several months. As far as he is concerned, the case ends when Stijn receives a community service order for one hundred and eighty hours, sixty of which are conditional. This is with a two-year probationary period.
Attorney Ashten disagrees. He believes that his client should be released from all legal proceedings. He cites that the man is known in the police force to be disoriented and to have been heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. During a blood test, a blood alcohol level of 1.3 was found. According to him, the question is whether the man fell backwards because of Stegen’s blow or because he was too drunk. He also finds it surprising that the ambulance nurse did not notice the fracture of the cheekbone and temporal bone near the man’s left eye during the on-site investigation. Head complications can also arise later if a head injury occurs. “You’d expect they’d go straight to the hospital at the slightest suspicion.”
Akhten feels that the statement of the policeman who was the first to arrive, about half an hour after the blows fell, only strengthened him. He did not see bruises or swelling on the face. The officer said he saw no injuries at all. “So the question is when did the injury happen,” said the lawyer. Stegen’s blows weren’t even with a bare fist. According to the lawyer, his client was wearing large padded gloves at the time. Achten believes there must be severe weather or an increase in severe weather. After Stijn received his first full punch to the face, the threat was not over. Witnesses indicate that the man then assumed a threatening fighting position. “It was obvious to them that he was going to attack Stegen again.”
The verdict will follow two weeks later, on January 19.