15 years for axe killer who lived with body

A 52-year-old man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Vienna court for killing a homeless man with an axe in his apartment last October.

15 years for axe killer who lived with body
The body was found in this building in Aichholzgasse. Photo: Andi Schiel

The German native lived with the corpse in his home for over two months, before finally confessing what he had done to friends.

His trial on Tuesday began two and a half hours late, after he complained that he had a bad headache and there were some doubts as to whether he was mentally well enough to attend.

He shuffled into the courtroom wearing pyjamas and slippers, and told the judge that he was finding it “hard to cope” with being in prison, and was keen that the trial should be over with as quickly as possible. A psychiatrist had declared him fit to stand trial.  

The accused, who according to prosecutor Karina Fehringer had taken early retirement and was suicidal and depressed, had a “social conscience” and repeatedly offered homeless people a bed for the night in his home. His friends described him as “calm and caring”. 

Last year he met a 50-year-old Slovakian man and offered him a place to sleep at his apartment in Meidling. However, he became annoyed after the Slovak outstayed his welcome and was constantly turning up at his flat drunk.

“I threw him out three times but he kept coming back,” the defendant said. He added that the Slovak became aggressive towards him and that he didn’t know what to do. “I was overwhelmed.”

When he turned up drunk at his home on October 26th the 52-year-old said that he cooked him a meal, and then told him it was time to go, “otherwise something bad is going to happen”.

The unwanted guest ignored him and went to sleep on the sofa. “When I woke up at 2:00am and found him still there I became enraged,” the accused said.

He took an axe from his bedroom, which he said he kept next to his bed to defend himself from intruders, and struck the Slovak with two “massive blows” to the head. When he was sure the man was dead he went back to bed and fell asleep.

He lived with the decomposing body in his home for over two months. The mummified corpse was only discovered on January 12th, after the 52-year-old (who moved in with a friend in late December because the smell in his apartment was getting too bad) confided in a drugs counsellor and two friends.

In his defence, he said that he felt that his victim was exploiting him and he could see no other way out of the situation.

A psychiatric report found that the 52-year-old suffers from a narcissistic disorder with schizoid-paranoid components, but that this did not mean he couldn’t be held responsible for his actions and it was not recommended that he be sent to a psychiatric hospital.

He has been ordered to pay €9,900 in compensation and to cover funeral costs to the victim's daughter. 



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Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

An Austrian court on Monday sentenced a people smuggler to seven years in prison over the deaths of two Syrians who suffocated in the crammed minivan he was driving, Austria's news agency reported.

Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

The bodies of the two men were discovered last October when Austrian authorities stopped and searched a van at the border with Hungary.

Thirty people in total were crammed in the vehicle, whose driver fled the scene but was later arrested in Latvia and extradited.

The 19-year-old Latvian was found guilty of people smuggling and causing fatal injuries, but was not found guilty of murder, APA reported.

READ MORE: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

He said he would accept the verdict, but the prosecution can still appeal it, APA said.

A court spokeswoman could not immediately be reached by AFP. 

Austria’s interior ministry announced in May that police had smashed a group believed to have smuggled tens of thousands of mostly Syrians, including the two found suffocated, from Hungary to Austria.

A total of 205 people suspected to be linked to the group have been arrested in central and eastern Europe, the ministry said.

Those smuggled, including children, were trying to reach western European countries, including Germany and France.

The October discovery of the dead men recalled a dire event in August 2015 when 71 people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan suffocated in the back of an air-tight van where they had been hidden by people smugglers.

The bodies, including those of three children and a baby, were discovered in Austria but they had died while still on the other side of the border.

Almost four years later, the Hungarian courts sentenced their smugglers to life imprisonment.

The emotion aroused by that tragedy triggered a brief opening of the borders to hundreds of thousands of people wishing to reach Western Europe.

But Austria and other European countries have since fortified borders to stop people smuggling.