Suspected murderer of Julie Van Espen in court over previous rape charges
Share article:
Share article:

Suspected murderer of Julie Van Espen in court over previous rape charges

Credit: Belga

Steve Bakelmans, the 39-year-old man suspected of murdering student Julie Van Espen (23), will appear before the Antwerp court of appeal on Wednesday for another matter, the rape of his former girlfriend. He was sentenced in the first instance to four years in prison for these acts.

The victim had alerted the police on October 31, 2016. Bakelmans, with whom she had had a four-year relationship, had that night entered her bedsit in Antwerp, torn her underclothes and raped her. To stifle her screams, he stuffed some socks into her mouth and, as she continued to struggle, punched her in the face.

Before leaving, the man stole the young woman’s wallet. A few moments later, he sent her an apology text: “Shit! Hell! I’m going to hand myself in to the cops. There’s nothing anyone can do for me in any case. It’s better like that. I am so very sorry,” he wrote.

Bakelmans presented himself to the police on November 6 2016. He confessed to the charges, explaining he was still in love with his former companion and had dreamed she was getting married to someone else before going to her flat. He only wanted to lie down at her side but, when she started to scream, the situation got out of hand, he added.

The man has already been in and out of the court system five times for theft, rape, handling stolen goods and making threats. Furthermore, he has been convicted six times for road traffic offences.

In June 2017, he was sentenced in the first instance to four years in prison. His immediate arrest was not required because the court considered there was no indication he would attempt to escape his punishment.

The thirty-year-old lodged an appeal. His case had taken some time to come up because of a personnel shortage at the appeal court. That is why he was at liberty when, on last May 4, he attempted to rape Julie Van Espen before killing her and throwing her body into the Albert canal in Antwerp.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Aggression against railway staff more than doubled since 2020
In the first three quarters of 2021, the number of reports of aggression against national railway company SNCB's staff has more than doubled compared ...
Intervention hotline 1722 activated following bad weather warnings
Following bad weather warnings from Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI), the Federal Public Service (FPS) Home Affairs has ...
Thousands march in Brussels to raise awareness of violence against women
More than 3,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday afternoon for a national march to raise awareness of violence against women in ...
Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...