Danish high court increases sentence for driver in fatal jetski accident

Danish high court increases sentence for driver in fatal jetski accident
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
The Østre Landsret high court has extended by six months the prison sentence given to a 25-year-old who piloted a jetski involved in an accident in Copenhagen Harbour last year, killing two.

Two American exchange students lost their lives when the jetski driven by the 25-year-old, Frederik Oliver Schmidt, collided with their rented boat on May 6th, 2017.

READ ALSO: Man admits manslaughter charge in trial over Danish jetski tragedy

Schmidt was sentenced to two years in prison for negligent manslaughter at Copenhagen City Court in January, but the prosecution chosen to appeal for a stronger punishment, demanding a four-year sentence.

Two high court judges supported a three-year sentence while a majority of three judges felt that a six-month increase to the original custodial period was adequate, Ritzau writes.

The two-and-a-half-years also include a seven-month sentence from a previous conviction.

The decision was justified in part by the court’s belief that the jetski was driven in a genuinely reckless manner, leading to the vehicle’s confiscation.

“He has always been clear that he would take the punishment he is given. Now he is just relieved it is over,” the man’s defence lawyer Jane Ranum said.

Senior prosecutor Rikke Jensen noted in court that Schmidt had made a number of dangerous manoeuvres on the jetski in the minutes prior to the accident.

He sailed at high speed towards a speedboat and turned at the last second, spraying those on board the boat with water, the court heard.

He and seven other jetski riders were travelling at speeds of up to five times the legal limit and also ignored the attempted interventions of others in the harbour, where jetskis are forbidden.

Jensen said she was glad that the court had decided to increase the sentence.

“As a mother and resident in this city, I hope that this will send a strong signal not to ride jetskis in the harbour. They are dangerous machines and should be kept far away from light traffic,” she said.

25-year-old Schmidt had no licence to pilot the jetski, the machine was new, and he only had a few minutes’ driving experience on it before the tragic accident occurred.

In addition to the prison sentence and confiscation of the jetski, the court also awarded compensation to a number of the surviving passengers from the boat involved in the collision.

READ ALSO: After fatal tragedy, jetskis fined for sailing in Copenhagen harbour