Ben C. from Hove returned home by bicycle early in the morning on April 7 last year. He would have gotten on his bike after a lockdown party. That same morning, around 6 am, his 29-year-old pregnant victim left Lier for work. For this she took the cyclists’ tunnel on the Antwerpsesteenweg. She first met Ben in that tunnel and he allegedly hit her on the behind.
He drove on to block the bike path and when the victim said something, he punched her in the face and dragged her off her bike. He forced her on her hands and knees and tried to pull down her maternity pants, but of course she resisted. Because C. couldn’t get an erection because of his drunkenness, he penetrated her with his hand. The victim sustained multiple injuries. After police released images of him, the young man turned himself in.
heavily under the influence
C. was remarkably enough defended by master Christine Mussche. She has made a name for herself as a lawyer for victims of sexual violence and was particularly active during the trials of Bart De Pauw and Bo Coolsaet. She asked for the suspension for C., since he was heavily under the influence of alcohol and he had therefore had a blackout. However, she acknowledged that was no excuse. The defense asked to give him another chance, given his young age.
The public prosecutor advanced against Ben C. four years in prison, part of which with probation postponement. And the court has now followed suit. C. has been jailed for four years, half of which has been suspended. He will also pay his victim 15,000 euros
“It seems to me to be a good verdict,” emphasizes Hugo Coveliers, the victim’s lawyer. “And it is in accordance with what the Public Prosecution Service had demanded. I have already spoken to my client by phone and she was also satisfied. With this statement she can finally give what has happened a place. It was especially important to her that she can put it behind her from now on.”