Justice Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile of the Lagos High Court Sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square on Friday convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, a Danish man, Peter Nielsen, accused of killing his Nigerian wife Zainab and his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile Sentenced the condemned foreigner to death after holding that the state government had successfully proven the two-count charge of murder contrary to Section 223 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos, 2015 against him.
The state had arraigned the condemned convict on June 13, 2018, for killing his Nigerian musician wife, Zainab also known as Alizee and daughter on April 5, 2018, at about 3.45 am at their Banana Island residence in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.
Justice okikiolu-Ighile held in her judgment on the four-year case that the post mortem examination led by Professor John obafunwa on the deceased persons held to resolve the case.
The judge then held that the autopsy report concluded that the bruises found on the neck of the head and neck of Zainab were consistent with blunt trauma.
She also held that report also stated that the “tiny signs of bleeding” proved to smother as the cause of death.
The judge also stated, “smothering which caused the absence of oxygen in both deceased persons was also established as the cause of Zainab’s death.
“It couldn’t have been self-inflicted or due to epilepsy as that wasn’t included in her medical history,” she said.
The court also reviewed testimonies by prosecution witnesses including a housemaid, Zainab’s sibling and two police officers who testified during the trial to incidents of domestic violence perpetrated by the convict.
The court particularly described Zainab’s sister, Pepe, who was about 13 years old at the time of the incident as a witness of truth who testified about a fight between the couple in 2017, adding that the defendant had threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone about what she saw.
Also DNA results of the extracts found under Zainab’s fingernail showed she tried to fight back in the deadly encounter and those samples were found to match that of the defendant.
“The nail scrapings showed contact between them, which wasn’t a normal contact between husband and wife, but that of a struggle.”
The court added, that the fact that he didn’t call for help immediately he claimed he found them lying down in the kitchen, but carried them to the living room and applied CPR on them, showed “he himself certified they had died before calling for help. I find it hard to believe he is absolved of having a hand in their deaths.”
“The evidence shows that he beat his wife, and smothered them. Police extracts showed reports of domestic violence by the defendant”
“This is a case of domestic abuse. The DNA result showed she tried so much to defend herself. But unfortunately, it was too late.”
In her sentencing, Justice Okikiolu-Ighile held that, in line with Section 223 (2) of the the Criminal Laws of Lagos state, 2015, “subject to the provision of any other law, death sentence is the punishment for murder.
“I hereby find you, Peter Nielsen, guilty of the murder of Zainab and Petra, as charged. I also prescribe the sentence of the court upon you for both counts of murder, to be death by hanging. May the Almighty God have mercy on your soul.”
Kogi-State born Zainab, alias Alizee, was signed to an Asian record label Petra Entertainment and was on the course of promoting her January 2018 single, ‘Alhaji Musa’, before the alleged murder.
Professor Obafunwa had told Justice Okikiolu-Ighile that his post-mortem examination of Zainab’s corpse suggested that she was killed when her nose and mouth were forcibly closed which deprived her of oxygen.
He also testified that the deceased also suffered bruises around her head which were consistent with “blunt force trauma that was not enough to cause any fracture.”
Obafunwa said evidence showed the deceased struggled to free herself from her killer’s grip using her hands and nails.
The result of a DNA analysis of Zainab’s nail clipping, the witness added, revealed the presence of her DNA material and that of “an individual described as Peter”.
In his defence, Nielsen had denied killing his family.
The convict claimed that on the day of the tragic incident he found the duo dead when he awoke from sleep that morning and tried to revive them.
“I do not know if there was any damage to the sliding door or any of the doors I had opened that morning. I asked Mimi (a teenager who lived with them) to open the glass door which leads to the kitchen and also carries Petra from the kitchen to the living room while I stood close to my wife trying to get hold of her where she was lying on the floor; this was to avoid the risk of a gas explosion,” he said.
The convict had also claimed that he and Mimi moved the bodies from the kitchen to the sitting room before anyone else came to the house and before he placed a call to his wife’s mother.