Community service for threat student

Court thinks that death threats to students and university staff were made deliberately

The 21-year-old Philosophy student Robbert van D. who threatened a shooting at Leiden University last October has been sentenced to a community punishment order of 180 hours, of which 60 hours suspended.

On 5 October 2015, the student from Valkenburg posted a message on the 4chan forum. The text read: “Gonna fucking do it. (..) Tomorrow at 10:05 I will open fire at the university of Leiden. Not gonna tell you which faculty, that’s up to you to guess. Shit’s going to go down, then I’m gonna go down. Going for the highscore…”
The message was picked up by the national police who regarded it as a terrorist threat, dispatching police protection to the branches of the university in Leiden and The Hague.
Van D. removed the threat after half an hour, but posted a new message on 4chan the next day, this time saying: “Yesterday was a test, to get some parameters. Normies get ready to fucking drop :^.”
As the student had sent the messages from his own laptop, the police could trace its IP address to the home of the student’s parents. It then emerged that Van D. was at Catena, his student fraternity. He was arrested there and immediately confessed to posting the threats.
Van D. appeared in court in The Hague two weeks ago and revealed at the time that he had acted “on impulse”; it was not “a preconceived plan”.
He had wanted to join in with “making cruel jibes at people”, in keeping with the forum’s “culture of edgy humour”. Struggling with a psychotic disorder and mood disorder, he also felt “a compulsion to post the messages”.
His lawyer, Reinja Ottens, thought that threats on 4chan did not need to be taken seriously and, speaking two weeks ago at the hearing, added that Van D. had never intended to carry out the threats: “He wouldn’t even know how to acquire a gun.”
Nonetheless, Judge René Elkerbout crushed the defence’s arguments: “The court does not concur with the defence’s claim that the messages on 4chan were not meant to be taken seriously.”
“Supposedly, people just post nonsense on 4chan and only make cruel jibes at people by means of sick jokes. However, it is a forum with public access and states nowhere that the posts are only meant as jokes”, Elkerbout said.
The court is of the opinion that the student, who was not present when the decision was announced, deliberately threatened to kill staff and students. “The suspect even mentioned a specific time and location. Added to which, there had been a shooting, resulting in many casualties, in Oregon in the United States only a few days before he posted the threats.”
The court also held it against Van D. that he had posted a second threat, creating a “very serious incident that caused much social unrest.”
Elkerbout said that, although Van D. suffered from a “light psychosis”, he still attended lectures and took part in social activities. “He was capable of realising the consequences of his message.” Moreover, the Public Prosecutor had already taken the suspect’s diminished responsibility into account when stating her demand.
The Public Prosecutions Service had demanded 120 hours of community service and a suspended one-month prison sentence, intending the prison sentence to serve as a deterrent. Elkerbout decided: “We impose a community punishment order of 120 hours and another 60 hours of community service suspended on condition that Van D. reports to the probation service, adheres to his treatment and continues to take his medication.” VB

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