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Killer of Scots tour guide has murder conviction overturned

Ex-soldier will now serve shorter sentence for lesser charge over death of Rebecca Johnson.

Killed: Rebecca Johnson.
Killed: Rebecca Johnson.

Reporting by David Mac Dougall.

A former soldier who killed Scots tour guide Rebecca Johnson in Lapland has had his murder conviction overturned.

Karel Frybl will instead now serve a shorter prison sentence for 'homicide' after an appeal hearing.

Under Finnish law, it means judges believe the killing of 26-year-old Ms Johnson was not premeditated or particularly cruel.

Frybl was initially found guilty of murder earlier this year, after what was described as a frenzied attack on Ms Johnson, from Burntisland, Fife, in a remote part of Lapland in December 2016.

But the 36-year-old, who was sentenced to life in February, had his murder conviction overturned on Friday.

He will now serve 11 years for homicide instead of his initial 14-year sentence for murder.

Frybl and Ms Johnson were working as tour guides at a husky ranch, giving sled rides to tourists.

After an argument, Frybl stabbed Ms Johnson more than 30 times in the head, back, chest, abdomen and thigh during an attack that he claims he doesn't remember at all.

At trial, a panel of judges heard how ten of the knife wounds were fatal blows, and they described Frybl's blitz attack as "brutal and cruel".

'Although Frybl is undoubtedly considered to be cruel, [the killing] cannot be considered to be particularly cruel'
Appeal judges

The only other employee working at the remote outpost, where the temperature was -30°C on the day of the murder, described walking in to find a fatally wounded Johnson slumped in a pool of blood, with Frybl above her holding a knife.

She pleaded for an ambulance, but died before help arrived.

Writing in their official deliberation, the three-person panel of appeal judges said the fact Frybl continued to stab Ms Johnson after being interrupted showed his determination to kill her.

But, the judges also wrote that Frybl didn't deliberately prolong her death or take actions to increase the pain, which would have elevated his conviction to murder.

"Although Frybl is undoubtedly considered to be cruel, [the killing] cannot be considered to be particularly cruel," they said.

Frybl will continue to serve his sentence in Finland, although it's understood he has been moved from a prison in the north of the country to another location.

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