Lawyer told me to say I heard voices, Belgian killer tells court

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 25, 2013 2:18 PM

By Robert-Jan Bartunek

GHENT, Belgium (Reuters) - A Belgian charged with stabbing two babies to death at a day-care centre stunned a court on Monday when he said it had been his lawyer's idea to tell investigators he had been driven by voices in his head.

Kim De Gelder, 24, who is also accused of killing a carer and an elderly woman a week before the nursery attack, admits the acts, leaving his trial to decide whether or not he is sane.

"My lawyer wanted to get me committed. That's why I kept saying that," De Gelder said when asked by the judge whether there were voices in his head which commanded him to kill.

In January 2009, then 20-year-old De Gelder entered the Fabeltjesland (Fairytale Land) crèche in Dendermonde, 30 km (20 miles) west of Brussels, and started slashing with a knife, killing six- and nine-month-old boys and a female child minder.

Also accused of the attempted murder of 16 children and six carers, De Gelder told the court in a rambling testimony he had planned to kill, but changed his mind after walking through the day-care's sliding door. However, a child lock had prevented him from getting out.

"I wanted to get out and then I got into a panic and started stabbing," he said.

De Gelder also admitted to killing a 72-year-old pensioner a week before his day-care attack. He posed as a water inspector to get the woman to let him into her house.

"I felt bad but the compulsion was so great that I had to continue," De Gelder said, adding he went to a comedy show afterwards.

Asked about a motive for the crimes, De Gelder proved evasive: "I had written it down, but my lawyer won't let me say it. I will keep it until the end of the trial or maybe until a next trial."

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De Gelder talked of a strained relationship with his parents, which became more and more difficult until he moved into his own apartment in October 2008.

"My plans to kill people were created out of the desperation to get rid of my parents," he told the court.

De Gelder said he visited a psychiatrist for the first time when he was 16 and later tried to commit suicide by lying on a railway track, but this failed as the train stopped in time. He also told the judge he never wanted to take medication.

He described planning his acts carefully, including practicing how to slit throats on a wooden cutout in his apartment.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop, Ron Askew)