Immediately after the court’s ruling, lawyer Pieter van der Kruijs rushes out of the courtroom, searching his mobile phone for the correct number with his fingers. He wants to let his client, Rob B., know what the verdict is. Rob (64) is not there, partly because of the tension. So Van der Kruijs tells by telephone that he was acquitted for killing his girlfriend 22 years ago. Rob’s 2007 conviction has thus been definitively overturned. Rob didn’t kill his girlfriend.
The ‘Rosmalense flat murder’ concerns the death of the then 37-year-old Regie van den Hoogen, who died on April 10, 2000 in her flat in Rosmalen, near Den Bosch. When the police arrived, it turned out that Regie had died from cutting her neck – a 16 centimeters cut. She lay in the hall, a knife under her arm, blood everywhere.
The police soon found Regie’s friend Rob B.. Due to a lack of break-in marks, there were only two options: either Regie slit her own throat, or her friend Rob did.
Mainly based on reports from two investigators, Selma Schieveld and Richard Eikelenboom, Rob was eventually convicted of killing his girlfriend. Schieveld’s report listed ten findings that she believes point to murder. Richard Eikelenboom’s report focused on the blood spatter. According to the expert, that suited the scenario of a crime more than suicide. Rob B. was sentenced on appeal in 2007 to TBS with compulsory treatment. The TBS has now been phased out, but he is still in a clinic.
Lawyer Van der Kruijs has always believed in Rob’s innocence. Partly after an investigation by students from the Free University (VU), the Advisory Committee on Closed Criminal Cases (ACAS) considered the case. New researchers from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) brushed aside the previous investigations by Eikelenboom and Schieveld. The bloodstain image was more suited to a suicide scenario than a crime, and the cut tells nothing about whether it was murder or suicide. When a professor of forensic medicine also concludes that suicide is more likely than manslaughter, Diederik Aben, Advocate General at the Supreme Court, submits a request for review. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the case must be reconsidered.
Also read: Rob B. has been convicted ‘with the wet finger’ in Rosmalense case
Two weeks ago, the court in Arnhem-Leeuwarden dealt with the substance of the case, Monday the court acquitted Rob B. definitively. According to the court, the reports of Schieveld and Eikelenboom do not constitute evidence for the conclusion that Rob was in any way involved in the death of his girlfriend. Other evidence is lacking.
The court was very critical of the reports by Schieveld and Eikelenboom. For example, according to the court of appeal, it is problematic that Eikelenboom was already involved in the investigation at an earlier stage, and subsequently reported on the same case. The court also finds it “very undesirable” that Schieveld and Eikelenboom are life partners, and that they did not explicitly mention this from the start.
Vincent Smink, press attorney general at the Public Prosecution Service’s Resorts Package, says that this case teaches us to remain critical of rapporteurs and experts. “Apologies are in order here. How we do that and what the consequences are for compensation, we will discuss with the lawyer.”
For that counselor, Pieter van der Kruijs, it was his last trick. He is going to retire. According to him, Rob and his family are happy and relieved, although this judgment of the court cannot make up for all the misery.
With the acquittal, the Rosmalense flat murder comes in the line of the Puttense murder case, Lucia de B. and the Pettense camping murder: cases that had to be repeated and eventually led to acquittal.
You can talk about suicide at the national helpline 113 Suicide Prevention. Phone 0800-0113 or www.113.nl