The Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) yesterday sentenced a Dane, Peter Nielsen, to death by hanging for killing his wife, Zainab, and their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Petra.
Justice Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile passed the verdict after finding Nielsen, 57, guilty of a double murder charge preferred against him by the Lagos State Government.
The judge held: “It is the judgment of the court that you, Peter Nielsen, is found guilty of the murder of Zainab and Petra Nielsen on April 5, 2018.
“I hereby pronounce that you, Peter Nielsen, shall be hanged by the neck till death. May God have mercy on you.”
Kogi State-born Zainab alias Alizee, was signed to an Asian record label, Petra Entertainment, and was on the verge of promoting her January 2018 single, ‘Alhaji Musa’, before she was murdered.
The judge, who began reading the judgment at 11:10am after taking appearances of the prosecution counsel Adebayo Haroun and the defence counsel Uyi Giwa- Osaigie, finished delivering the judgment at a few minutes to 5pm.
The judge found that the evidence against Nielsen was consistent with the prosecution’s case that the Dane smothered Zainab and Petra to death.
“He was the one that killed Zainab. Peter Nielsen was the one that killed Petra Nielsen. Zainab had already predicted her death when she told their driver that ‘this man will kill me.’
“She told her stepfather, Chris Madaki, when she went to Abuja that ‘this man will kill me.’” Justice Okikiolu-Ighile said.
The judge also noted that the evidence of the sixth prosecution witness (PW6) that on April 5, 2018, at 4:10am, she saw Nielsen beating and hitting Zainab’s head on the floor corroborated the oral evidence of forensic pathologist Prof John Obafunwa (PW4).
Nielsen was arraigned on June 13, 2018 on a two-count charge of murder.
He pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of murder said to contravene Section223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, following which trial commenced.
The Lagos State Government accused Nielsen of smothering Zainab and Petra to death at about 3:45am, on April 5, 2018, at No. 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island, Ikoyi.
When trial commenced the prosecution called nine witnesses, and closed its case on September 20, 2019.
The defence opened its case and also called nine witnesses with the defendant being the ninth witness.
Claiming innocence, Nielsen had told the court on January 11 that he found the duo dead when he awoke from sleep that morning and tried to revive them.
“I remember that Thursday, 5th of April, 2018 was an Easter vacation day. When I woke up, I was looking for Zainab and Petra from the balcony overlooking the field in the Estate,” Nielsen added.
But Justice Okikiolu-Ighile held that oral and documentary evidence before the court showed that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nielsen smothered his wife and daughter.
“This is one of the cases of domestic violence. The DNA analysis of nail scraping brought out the assailant of Zainab.
“Zainab tried so much to defend herself. The evidence shows that Peter Nielsen killed his wife and daughter.
“There is evidence before the court that there was a fight between the defendant and his wife,” the judge held.
She noted further that Prosecution Witnesses (PW5 and PW6) testified that they heard Zainab calling Mimi (one the girls living with the couple) for help and they heard Zainab telling the defendant to check her phone but he kept hitting her head.
“The act of the defendant shows that he suffocated his wife and daughter.
“Peter (Nielsen) always domestically abused his wife which was shown in the police extract from Ikoyi Police Station.
“She didn’t know that her marriage to thedefendant was void ab initio because Peter was already married in Denmark.”
However, on the controversial issue of the night gown worn by Zainab on the night she died, the judge expunged the evidence.
She said that the pathologist who analysed the DNA on the night gown was thoroughly examined and cross-examined by the defence.
The judge, however, noted that on October, 20, 2020, the High Court of Lagos was vandalised and burnt, which affected the night gown, a jumpsuit, towel and pant worn by Zainab and Petra.
The defence counsel, Olasupo Shasore, SAN, had made heavy weather of the missing items, describing the night gown in particular as a critical piece of evidence.
The judge, however, said that the contention of the defendant was not for cross-examination but for them to take the items for DNA examination for their own case.
She said: “It is trite law that all documentary evidence must be scurtinised, but the defendant has argued that he didn’t have opportunity to produce his own examination.
“The defendant made application to expunge such items from the evidence.
“I have considered the application, exhibits, PWN (Zainab’s nightgown, Petra’s jumpsuit, towel and pant) is hereby expunged.”