Kevin Sweeney is serving a life sentence for murder of his wife by arson.
Here is a link to his own site http://www.justiceforkevinsweeney.com. You can read the conclusion of the court under LJN number AB0493 at www.rechtspraak.nl. Investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries reports on the case in his dossier Suzanne Davis. Curiously, Peter de Vries admits that there is absolutely no proof of arson and murder yet he appears to have a lot of sympathy for the victim of the fire, and none for the person who is accused of starting it. He has no interest now in supporting Sweeney’s claim that he is innocent and the fire was an accident (probably started by smoking in bed).
Negative publicity about Sweeney, demonstrably untrue and much of it spread by certain of the close relatives of the victim, has poisoned a lot of the news items on his case, see for instance the story on Sweeney at www.expatica.com, a web-site for Brits in the Netherlands. However independent lawyers and scientists who have become involved in his case are convinced that the fire was an accident, see for instance Fair Trial International’s dossier on the case http://www.fairtrials.net/index.php/cases/spotlight/kevin_sweeney.
On studying the scientific evidence which secured the conviction (results of experiments by TNO on reproducing the fire damage, and the pathology evidence concerning the cause and time of death), I can only agree that the prosecution’s story is totally in contradiction with all known facts, while that of the defense is totally in agreement with them.
It seems that Sweeney’s charming personality, high intelligence (his IQ of 144 is one of the legally established facts supporting his conviction) and spirited and elaborate defense of himself convinced Dutch judges that he was evil and manipulative. The fact that the fire started about the same time Sweeney arrived in Brussels one hundred kilometers away only confirms these judgements. The TNO experiments showed that the fire could NOT have been caused by a naked flame applied to 8 litres of fuel, and did nothing to disprove that it was caused by a burning cigarette fallen on bed-linen or whatever. Police investigators stated that the idea a fire could be caused by smoking in bed “belongs in the realm of fables” (a turn of phrase much admired by the judge, who quotes it in the summing up) whereas this is one of the most common types of fires, and the most common cause of fire deaths, the world over. Statistical evidence that such fires also occur in the Netherlands was not admitted by the judge who preferred to believe in the word of a policeman, out to secure a conviction. The TNO experiments were so complex and expensive that they had to incriminate the suspect, whatever the outcome, despite the fact that they were spectacularly ill-designed and inconclusive.
I notice the following similarities with the case of Lucia de Berk: the suspect is intelligent, a strong personality, a sympathetic but not run-of-the-mill person, with an unusual (complex) background and personal history involving much time spent abroad; the suspect never stops asserting their innocence; the crimes are so perfect that they are actually impossible; the case involves a huge amount of complex multidisciplinary scientific evidence. Scientists from any particular field know that the evidence of their colleagues in their own field was worthless but don’t find it necessary to protest, since everyone knows that the suspect was a bad person who probably did kill his wife. The police suppressed evidence supporting the defence case, manipulated forensic evidence, got witnesses to change their statements and to lie. The prosecution spread slander and gossip about the suspect and paints a beautiful picture of the victim which was greedily repeated by the media, known by scientific experts giving witness in the case, and embellished by the judges in their conclusions.
At the first hearing, the case collapsed; the prosecution appealed and spent three years on the TNO fire experiments. Fully documented support of all the statements I have just made were available to the Appeal Court (which found Sweeney guilty), to the Supreme Court, and to the European Court of Human Rights. All these courts have ignored them totally. Justice by gossip, with science as a willing accessory
Here is a report I’m writing for Sweeney’s lawyers.