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Paedophile Murder

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Mike ThomsonMike Thomson reports from Horsens Jail in Denmark
A British man is appealing against a 12 year sentence imposed by a Danish court for killing a paedophile who he says molested his nine-year-old daughter.

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Mike Thomson reports on attempts by the Danish government to close down a web site promoting paedophilia.
Stephen Hoath

Stephen Hoath in Horsens Jail, Denmark
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Stephen Hoath in his cell

Peter Hjorne: solicitor for Stephen Hoath
Horsens Jail

Per Larsen: Head of Copenhagen's C.I.D.
Paedophile website

The Paedophile website: shut down in Denmark, re-opened in America
The Danish Parliament

The Danish Parliament.
A heavily built middle aged man with greying hair and beard sits coughing in his jail cell in Horsens prison, 150 miles west of Copenhagen. 54 year-old, Stephen Hoath, who suffers from a serious lung disease, is serving a 14 year sentence for the premeditated murder in 2002 of a Danish man he had met on a fishing trip. Yet despite the possibility that his lung condition may kill him before he is released from prison, Hoath refuses to rule out the possibility that in similar circumstances he would do the same thing again:

"Nobody wants to be responsible for taking a life. Nobody wants that on their conscience but I have to only concentrate on the fact that my child is still alive and she is safe."
 
The former London factory worker, who had lived in Denmark for 13 years before the killing of 63 year-old convicted paedophile, Willy Andersen, claims that the man had sexually molested his nine year-old daughter. Hoath insists that he immediately reported what his daughter had told him to local Danish police but they refused to take action on the grounds that they did not have enough evidence to arrest Andersen. He says he was given the same response when he told them that the same man was plaguing his daughter with phone calls and repeatedly parking his car within view of the family home.
 
Finally, on August 17, 2002 Hoath drove with a Danish friend to the town of Middlefart where he shot Willy Andersen dead as he stood beside his car. He claims that he was psychologically unbalanced at the time of the killing due to the stress caused by what had happened to his daughter. Hoath has always claimed that he never set out to kill his victim. However, the Danish courts did not see it that way and he received one of the longest possible sentences for murder. Earlier this year an appeal court cut his sentence from 14 to 12 years but Stephen Hoath may not live long enough to walk free. In 2002 a leading Danish lung specialist warned him that his respiratory condition could kill him within five years.
 
Throughout our interview, Hoath coughs and wheezes. On the day I met him he had been placed in solitary confinement for refusing to attend a group discussion that he says would involved him listening to the views of a convicted paedophile. During my visit to Horsens Jail the staff seemed polite, even friendly but Hoath disagrees. He is particularly angry about the decision to refuse him a pardon on health grounds after the prison doctor diagnosed his lung condition as stable and not life threatening. Hoath begins to go red in the face on recounting what he describes as the totally inadequate health care he gets at the jail:

"I have been to hospital so many times. I have nearly choked to death twice in the night. If I get an attack where I start to choke at night I will die because they just don't care."

He then added:
"The day I was taken to hospital I was chained like an animal with a belt around your waist and arms chained to the belt. That is how they walked me to hospital. They treat me like the worst kind of monster you can imagine."
 
Stephen Hoath's case has proved very controversial in Denmark, a country which legally allows paedophiles to form their own association and web site. It openly insists that "paedophilia is love" and is "not necessarily harmful to children" who it insists are sexual beings like adults. Under Denmark's constitution, which guarantees citizens full rights to freedom of speech, such pronouncements are quite legal provided that the Association's members don't actually call on people to have sex with children. For this is a country that even gives a local Nazis party the legal right to air its views.
 
Denmark's Justice Minister, Lene Espersen, recently persuaded the Danish Paedophile Association to close it's locally based website after threatening that she would otherwise find some legal device to force it to close. But just when the government was giving itself a pat on the back the Association re-opened the site using an American internet service provider. It is now just as visible as it was before and Ms Espersen admits that there would be little she can do should its members design to set up in Denmark again:

"It would be possible for them to start the website again here if they want to and until the Director of Public Prosecutions has actually finished his inquiries we are not able to say if we can dissolve the organisation."

Meanwhile things are looking up a bit for Stephen Hoath. He has been told that within the next six months he is likely to be given final permission to transfer from his Danish jail to a British one. This week, perhaps in preparation for that, he's been moved to Vridsloselille Jail near Copenhagen, where he says the conditions are better. But some might claim that before a man who has killed can be safely released he must guarantee that he would never do such a thing again. I asked him if he can give that pledge? His reply was brief:

"No, I can't. I can't say that."


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