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Knutby pastor broke trial restrictions

The Local, Sweden
Nov. 28, 2004 • Sunday November 28, 2004

The pastor of Knutby, who is currently serving a life sentence for being an accessory to the murder of his wife and attempted murder of a neighbour, was back on the front pages this week as Aftonbladet revealed that he broke restrictions on his custody while the trial was in progress – by secretly making a TV antenna from the metal spirals of two notebooks.

The court decided that Helge Fossmo, 33, should have no access to the unprecedented media coverage of the case and banned him from having television or newspapers in his cell. But he requested permission to watch videos in his cell and the prosecutor agreed.

Oddly enough, one of the detectives in Uppsala police department, Kenneth Agren, had already loaned his 14-inch TV to Sara Svensson, the nanny found guilty of murdering Fossmo’s wife, while she was in custody in the run-up to the trial.

The set, which had a built-in video player, was then given to Fossmo without the antenna.

“It was out of social considerations that he was able to borrow the TV from me,” said Agren. “The idea was that as a diversion he should be able to watch the video films which the jail loans out.”

Agren added that he wasn’t supposed to watch television channels, so the antenna was removed. But that wasn’t enough to stop the cunning pastor. Using two spiral springs from notebooks “and aluminium from a food tray”, Fossmo created a functioning antenna.

The pastor was able to enjoy watching television coverage of the trial for a week, before prison officers caught him out.

“He was ingenious,” Agren told Aftonbladet. “But as soon as it was discovered the TV was taken away.”

Fossmo’s lawyer apparently knew about the incident.

“He told me about it,” he confirmed. “Because he had been locked up for so long by that time, the TV was something he really wanted.”

Presumably he can watch all the TV he wants now that he’s serving a life sentence. But after a confrontation with prison staff at Kronoberg prison in Stockholm, it seems that may not be enough to take his mind off his situation.

“He has changed radically – the person who was previously so considerate and polite is gone,” a source told Friday’s Expressen.

The considerate and polite pastor has apparently become “increasingly aggressive and disturbed” since his appeal was rejected at the beginning of November.

According to the tabloid, Fossmo’s lawyer, Ola Nordstrom, visited his client shortly after the incident and requested ‘protection’ from a prison officer. However, both Nordstrom and the governor of the jail, P-O Sjoholm, denied that there had been any change in the pastor’s demeanour.

But Expressen reported that when staff tried to calm Fossmo down, he told them, “I’m already in for life. It doesn’t matter what I do. I can take another life sentence.”

“But if you behave yourself you’ll be out sooner,” the officers replied.

“I’m in for life,” repeated Fossmo.

He’ll have his TV taken away if he’s not careful.

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