On March 6, 2023, the Debrecen Court sentenced to prison the two defendants who severely assaulted the victim and then left him and three other members of the company alone when a fire broke out in the caravan.
The court found the defendants guilty of the crime of physical assault committed as accomplices and the crime of assisting. Therefore, the court sentenced the first-rate defendant, as a multiple recidivist, to a prison sentence of 3 years and 6 months and prohibited him from practicing public affairs for 4 years, while the second-rate defendant, as a violent repeat offender, was sentenced to a prison sentence of 4 years and 7 months and prohibited from practicing public affairs for 5 years. The court excluded the defendants from the possibility of parole.
According to the essence of the court’s verdict, the victim had lived a homeless lifestyle for a long time, however, in the period before the crime was committed, he did casual work on a farm near Debrecen and also lived there in a caravan. The younger defendant was related to the victim for some time, and then he met the older defendant through him. On April 24, 2021, these two men – who knew each other before – consumed a significant amount of alcohol. During the evening, the accused decided to visit the victim in his caravan. The two men also brought a large amount of liquor with them, which they drank together with the victim and the two people in his company late in the evening. While drinking, the younger defendant questioned the victim about a previous disagreement, to which the victim reacted angrily, mainly due to his drunkenness. Enraged by this, the other man suddenly punched him several times on the face and head, and within a short time the other accused joined in the abuse and also punched the victim.
After that, the candle in the trailer went out, so one of the defendants crumpled up a towel he found there and lit it with a lighter, then placed several plastic food boxes and bottles on it to make the fire flare up even more. The resulting fire spread within a few minutes in the Styrofoam-lined caravan, where a lot of smoke was produced. The defendants fled in fear from the caravan, and closed the door, leaving the sleeping victim and two of his acquaintances alone.
The victim and two of his acquaintances were not injured during the fire incident, however, as a result of the abuse of the defendants, the victim suffered an injury that took more than eight days to heal.
Judge Dr. Pál Virágh said during the justification of the verdict that there is a big difference between arson and arson. He emphasized that it was no coincidence that the Prosecutor General’s Office amended the charge in February 2023 during the evidentiary process. This modified the historical facts, the circumstances of the commission, which changed the classification of the crime, the act against life. The fact that the witnesses were in a drunken state caused difficulties during the procedure, their testimonies had to be weighed and the saving circumstances had to be revealed. It was not in dispute that the abuse had taken place.
The judge said that there were no utilities in the caravan, the lighting was also solved with candles, or fire was made in a metal box by burning objects. When the last candle fell asleep, they lit the towel in the trailer because the accused wanted to see it. The fire could have spread so much that several objects were thrown onto the burning fire, and then the entire caravan caught fire. It was not possible to put it out because there was no water. An important question during the procedure was who behaved in such a way that no personal injury occurred, and who left in what way when they saw that they could not put out the fire. During the incident, one of the witnesses was awake and took the occupants out of the burning caravan. When they got out, they did not see the accused. The two defendants also denied having anything to do with the fire when they were later certified. During the proceedings, the court established that the defendants abused the victim with a joint decision, and then did not provide the expected help, even though they caused the danger and left the scene instead.
The judgment of the Court of Debrecen was not final, the prosecutor reserved three working days to think about the declaration of legal remedy. The first-order defendant and his defense attorney filed an appeal for mitigation, while the second-order defendant and his defense attorney appealed primarily for acquittal and secondarily for mitigation. The case continues at the Debrecen Court.