Supreme Court Reverses Hafnarfjördur Murder Verdict Skip to content

Supreme Court Reverses Hafnarfjördur Murder Verdict

The Supreme Court of Iceland reversed the non compos mentis verdict over Gunnar Rúnar Sigurthórsson yesterday. Sigurthórsson, who has confessed to murdering Hannes Thór Helgason in his home in Hafnarfjördur in August 2010, is now facing 16 years in prison.


The Supreme Court of Iceland. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

Earlier this year, Reykjanes District Court ruled that Sigurthórsson had not been of sound mind when committing the homicide and determined that he should be accommodated at a suitable psychiatric institution, reports.

The court room was crowded when the verdict was announced. Helgason’s family applauded the decision and hugged each other outside the court room.

Sigurthórsson is to pay the victim’s parents more than ISK 2 million (USD 17,000, EUR 13,000) in damages and ISK 1.2 million (USD 10,000, EUR 8,000) to his fiancée, Fréttabladid reports.

Yesterday afternoon, Sigurthórsson was transferred from the forensic psychiatric hospital Sogn to the maximum security prison Litla-Hraun.

While three psychiatrists had earlier concluded that he had suffered from a mental illness when he attacked Helgason in his sleep, repeatedly stabbing him with a knife, the psychiatrist and chief physician at Sogn has now come to a different conclusion.

“After nine and a half months at Sogn, delusions, hallucinations, thought disturbances and a distorted perception of reality have not ever been present. The symptoms of erotomania have disappeared,” the evaluation states.

“Gunnar Rúnar has certain aspects of obsession, does not budge from his opinion and has difficulty with adjusting to meet certain rules. He is argumentative and well aware of what he wants and what he sets out to achieve,” it continues.

“It is notable how quickly his love for D [Helgason’s fiancée] disappeared, which is usually at odds with real erotomania which doesn’t disappear except with medical treatment or other long-term treatment. The need for psychotropic medication is not evident. […] He does not have a formal mental illness,” the evaluation concludes.

The Supreme Court’s verdict states that Sigurthórsson decided as early as spring 2009 to murder Helgason and began organizing the crime. He followed up on his plans and initially denied having committed the homicide.

Sigurthórsson was aware of the nature of the crime for which he is convicted and was able to control his actions when he stabbed Helgason with the intention to take his life, the verdict concludes.

Sigurthórsson’s defendant, Gudrún Sesselja Arnardsóttir, told that the Supreme Court’s verdict is surprising, pointing out that the original psychiatric evaluation conducted by three respected and experienced psychiatrics was put aside.

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