Helsingborg District Court ruled that although video recorded by the hunter's night sights clearly showed that the figure he was aiming at looked like a person, it was nonetheless plausible that he had believed he was aiming at a roe deer.
“When we look at the film in hindsight, we know that it is a person,” Sofia Tollgerdt, the judge in the case, ruled. “But according to the research, there is a considerable risk that we overestimate our ability to recognize that at the moment of shooting.”
The man, who faced a 12-year sentence if found guilty of attempted murder, was instead sentenced to one year behind bars, and ordered to pay damages of 38,000 Swedish kronor ($4084).
The hunter's defence lawyer in court cited research showing that experienced hunters who are expecting to see a certain animal in a hunting environment can trick their own minds into seeing that animal even when it isn't there.
The hunter was found guilty of causing serious bodily harm and using illegal infrared sights and illegal ammunition, and was severely criticized for deliberately shooting in the direction of a road which had buildings behind it.
Ola Lavie, the prosecutor in the case, said that he had realized the man was likely to be found innocent when he was released from custody on the last day of the trial.
“I was surprised when he was released so I'm not surprised now,” he told Swedish state broadcaster SVT. “All I can say is that the court made a completely different judgement in the case from the one I did.”
Lavie said he had not yet decided whether to appeal the judgement.
Olle Rosdahl, 75, was having an early morning run in the countryside outside his home in Klippan, Skåne, at 4.30am on November 29 last year when he suddenly received a bullet in his hip.
“I heard a blast and fell to the ground. I was shrieking 'What the hell kind of shooting is that',” Rosdahl told Swedish broadcaster SVT after it happened.
When the 48-year-old Norwegian was initially arrested, police believed the shooting was accidental, but after looking at the recordings from the sights saved on his phone, the prosecutor charged him with attempted murder.