Property bosses jailed for icicle brain damage

The owner and manager of an Oslo apartment building have been jailed for failing to remove ice from the roof that fell on a student last winter, causing him brain damage.

Robin Vedvik Helmersen, now 25, almost died after an icicle dropped onto him as he made his way to meet his girlfriend in the city’s fashionable Frogner district in March 2010.

Giving a tearful testimony to the court, Helmersen’s girlfriend told how she rounded the corner just in time to see a passerby rush to her boyfriend’s aid, adding that she instantly recognised the shoes of the man lying in a pool of blood. Helmersen survived, but is now wheelchair-bound, can barely talk and needs round-the-clock assistance.

Both the owner and the manager of the property pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence, conceding that the accident was tragic but denying it was their fault. The Norwegian court, however, sentenced them to 75 and 60 days in prison respectively last week, while the real estate company was ordered to pay a fine of NOK 2 million (EUR 259,000), as well as NOK 500,000 (EUR 65,000) in compensation.

Both men will file an immediate appeal, based on their claim that their building had been secured and the ice actually fell from a neighbouring roof, according to The Foreigner. The problem of snow and ice building up on rooftops has increased in Scandinavia recently due to a string of harsh winters, forcing property owners to undertake expensive and time-consuming removal procedures.

Speaking after the verdict, Helmersen’s attorney, Christian Lundin, told NRK that his client “was very glad,” with the result of the case. “The first thing he said when he heard the judge read the verdict was ‘takk,’ (thank you), and that says it all,” he added.

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