Dane Peter Nielsen was found guilty of two counts of murder of his Nigerian wife, Zainab, and daughter, Petra, by the Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square annexe on Friday.
The judge, Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, issued the decision after a five-hour hearing that began around 11:15 p.m.
On June 13, 2018, the Lagos State Government arraigned the 53-year-old defendant on a two-count murder charge, punishable under Section 223 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos, 2015, which carries the death penalty if convicted.
He had entered a not guilty plea to the charges.
Mr Nielsen was accused of murdering his wife, a musician known as Alizee, and his daughter on April 5, 2018, around 3.45 a.m., at their Banana Island home in Lagos’s Ikoyi neighborhood.
Mrs Okikiolu-Ighile made her decision based on a post mortem examination of the deceased persons conducted by John Obafunwa, a professor.
Mr Obafunwa claimed that the bruises on Zainab’s head and neck were consistent with blunt trauma.
The autopsy report also stated that the “tiny signs of bleeding” proved to be smothering as the cause of death.
Smothering, which caused the absence of oxygen in both deceased persons, was also established as the cause of Zainab’s death.
The court held that it “couldn’t have been self-inflicted or due to epilepsy”, as that wasn’t included in her medical history.
On whether the defendant (Peter Nielsen) was responsible for the deaths, the court heard testimony from a housemaid, Zainab’s sibling, and two police officers.
During the trial, the defendants testified about domestic violence incidents perpetrated by Mr Nielsen on the late musician.
The court specifically mentioned Zainab’s sister, Pepe, who was about 13 years old at the time of the incident, as a truth witness who testified about a fight between the couple in 2017.
The defendant also threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone about what she saw, according to the court.
According to the court, DNA results of the extracts found under Zainab’s fingernail showed she tried to fight back in the deadly encounter and that those samples were found to match the defendant’s.
The judge said: “The nail scrapings showed contact between them, which wasn’t a normal contact between husband and wife, but that of struggle.”
The court added that the fact that he didn’t call for help immediately he claimed he found them lying in the kitchen but carried them to the living room and applied CPR on them, showing “he 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 court also noted that the couple fought that night, despite his denials and claims that he had a pleasurable night with his family.
“The evidence shows that he beat his wife and smothered them. Police extracts showed reports of domestic violence by the defendant.
Zainab once ran away to Abuja and said she wanted a divorce, which wasn’t necessary because her marriage to the defendant was null ab initio. He was still married to his wife in Denmark and had three children with her.
She even prophesied her death by telling her driver and step-dad that the defendant would kill her. 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, the judge held that, in line with Section 223 (2) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos state, 2015, “subject to the provision of any other law, the death sentence is the punishment for murder. I, at this moment, find you, Peter Nielsen, guilty of the murder of Zainab and Petra, as charged. I also prescribe the court’s sentence upon you for both counts of murder to be death by hanging. May the Almighty God have mercy on your soul.”