Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Former soldier who killed Fife girlfriend in Lapland has murder conviction overturned

Rebecca Johnson, left, and Karel Frybl (also known as Radek Kovac)
Rebecca Johnson, left, and Karel Frybl (also known as Radek Kovac)

A former soldier who killed his Fife girlfriend in a remote part of northern Finland has had his murder conviction overturned on appeal.

The ruling in Karel Frybl’s favour came in a rare 2-1 split decision from judges on Friday at the Lapland Court of Appeal in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi.

His murder conviction has been downgraded to homicide and he has been given an 11 year prison sentence.

Johannes Ahola, a local lawyer who has been following the case, said: “This means that it has been a difficult case, because it’s rather unusual for the Appeals Court judges to vote. It happens, but not really often.”

Frybl, from the Czech Republic, confessed to killing his girlfriend Rebecca Johnson, originally from Burntisland, at a trial in last year.

He says he blacked out during the attack in December 2016 which left then 26-year-old Johnson with more than 30 stab wounds to her head, chest, back, abdomen and thigh.

The couple had been working as tour guides at a husky ranch and the only other person there at the time was colleague Joseph Pickles, who heard Johnson’s screams and witnessed Frybl standing over her with a knife in his hands.

Frybl – who used the pseudonym Radek Kovac the whole time he was in a relationship with Johnson – was originally convicted by the District Court in Rovaniemi of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In practice this would have meant the killer spent 12 to 14 years behind bars.

The crux of the case rested on whether Frybl murdered Johnson or whether it was a crime of homicide, which are different legal definitions under Finnish law.

To secure a murder conviction, the prosecution would would have to establish a higher threshold. This could include a degree of premeditation, if the violence was particularly cruel or sustained, or if the victim was tortured.

A three-person panel of judges said in their official deliberation that the fact Frybl continued to stab Rebecca Johnson after Pickles had interrupted the attack shows his determination to kill her.

But, the judges also wrote that Frybl didn’t deliberately prolong her death or take actions to increase the pain.

“Although Frybl is undoubtedly considered to be cruel, [the killing] cannot be considered to be particularly cruel” in line with Finnish laws, the judges say.

“When thinking about the case you have to always remember that the court is considering it only on the basis of criminal law, even if you feel as a layman that it has been a very cruel that’s not enough, it has to reach the level of murder according to the law” said Mr Ahola, who is not connected with the case.

The judges in the Appeals Court being divided on whether Frybl should have his sentence reduced does leave the door open for a possible appeal to Finland’s Supreme Court.

That is something Rebecca Johnson’s family, or the prosecutor, might decide to do.

In the meantime Frybl will be in jail in Finland although it’s understood he has been moved from the original prison in Oulu in the north, to another location to serve his sentence.

Already a subscriber? Sign in