An August 26th of last year, Martin Hensvold lost a prolonged custody battle with 24-year-old Frida Stenberg over the couple’s two-year-old son and four-month old daughter.
Three hours after being awarded custody and with her infant daughter in tow, Stenberg drove out to pick up her son from a farm owned by Hensvold’s parents in the village of Smedsbyn outside of Luleå in northern Sweden.
Before leaving with her son, however, Stenberg asked the boy’s father to go fetch some shoes and socks for the 2-year-old.
Hensvold returned from his car with the requested items as well as a bolt pistol he kept handy in order to put down animals on the farm should the need arise.
He then placed the cattle pistol against the back of Stenberg’s neck and fired a fatal shot as the couple’s children looked on, the Expressen newspaper reported.
Prosecutor Karin Hansson had urged the district court in Luleå to sentence Hensvold to life in prison for the murder.
She argued that the ex-boyfriend had had time to collect his thoughts when he went to his car to get the bolt pistol.
“We’re talking about a straightforward execution,” Hansson told the court.
In its ruling, the court found that Hensvold knew from his experience using a bolt gun to kill livestock that one shot to the neck would be fatal.
The court also found that Hensvold, who had made partial confessions to the crime during a police investigation in August, was directly responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s death.
A psychiatric evaluation conducted during the investigation in September revealed that Hensvold wasn’t suffering from any mental illnesses at the time of the killing.
However, his mental condition deteriorated throughout the autumn, with a later examination showing that following the crime Hensvold had started to suffer from a deep depression with symptoms of psychosis and was in need of psychiatric care.
The Luleå District Court asserted that it wasn’t uncommon for people to be afflicted by serious, but temporary mental disturbances once they begin to realize the consequences their criminal acts will have on their lives.
The court therefore ruled that a long prison sentence, rather than time in a psychiatric care facility, was the most appropriate punishment for Hensvold and that his mental health needs can be met within the framework of those provided by the Swedish prison service.