Caregiver steals from 98-year-old, goes free

A caregiver in western Sweden, caught stealing from her elderly charge, has been freed after a court ruled that police planting money in the old woman’s wallet was entrapment.

“The purse was lying in the same position it always did and if it had been the woman’s own money, they would have been stolen just the same,” said Maigreth Mellgren of the police, to local paper Göteborgsposten (GP).

In December last year a woman reported that she thought notes were being pilfered out of her 98-year-old mother’s purse. Suspicions were aimed at a caregiver, who regularly visited the old woman’s home to help her with everyday chores.

Police took the controversial decision to plant 600 kronor ($87), in one hundred kronor notes, in the nonagenarian’s wallet.

When the caregiver next visited, a police patrol was waiting further down the road, according to GP.

The suspicions turned out to be true, five of the six notes were found on the caregiver’s person.

However, the district court in Uddevalla ruled that police had no right to act as they did, and that the woman would never have stolen the money, should she have known it belonged to the police.

She could therefore not be charged with intentional theft from the police, which was the charge that the prosecutor had demanded.

Furthermore, the district court wrote in their ruling that a fair trial against the woman must be seen as undermined due to the police’s actions.

The court wrote that the charged maid probably did take money from the old lady without leave. Her own explanation; that the old lady had asked her to purchase “orange cordial, fruit and bread” with the 500 kronor, the court dismissed as “not very convincing”.

But despite this, the woman was freed from all charges.

“It is a very fine line between evidence and entrapment and perhaps we must be even more careful now, “ Mellgren told GP.

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.