99-year-old murder suspect sectioned

The oldest person in the country that is in custody, a 99-year-old murder suspect has been sent to a secure mental health institution. The man, who is suspected of the murder of a fellow resident of an East Flemish care home was sectioned by magistrates in Ghent on Friday. He had been in prison on remand since 21 July. 

Just over three months ago he killed a 75-year-old fellow resident of a care home for the elderly in Heusden, just outside Ghent. The man suffocated his victim with a sheet. The victim had tried to alert staff by pressing the alarm button next to his bed. However, it wasn’t until 8 minutes later that care home staff came to his room as they were busy with other residents. They tried to revive the man, but their efforts were in vain.

It soon became clear that the 99-year-old man was responsible for the suffocation. When care home staff spoke to him shortly afterwards, he talked gibberish. During the couple of months, he had been at the care home he had already suffered several attacks of psychosis. Since being put on remand the man has been on the hospital wing of Bruges Prison.  

With the criminal investigation now complete, magistrates decided that given the man’s psychiatric condition it would be best for him to be sent to a secure mental health institution. His being sectioned means that he won’t have to face a trial before the Court of Assis. It is likely that he will remain on the psychiatric hospital wing at Bruges Prison for some time yet until a place becomes available at a forensic psychiatric centre. 

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