Man guilty of murdering Scottish tour guide in Lapland

  • Published
Rebecca Johnson and Karel Frybl
Image caption,
The court heard Rebecca Johnson told a friend that she was in an abusive relationship with Karel Frybl

A Czech man has been found guilty of murdering a Scottish tour guide in Lapland, a region of northern Finland.

Karel Frybl denied murder, claiming he had a temporary mental breakdown when he stabbed Rebecca Johnson, from Fife.

Since the trial ended in August, Frybl had been undergoing psychiatric tests. Those tests found he was in full control of his actions.

Anyone found guilty of murder in Lapland receives a mandatory life sentence in prison.

In practice this means at least 12 years - but has to meet a legal threshold of being premeditated, or particularly brutal or sustained.

Ms Johnson, 26, was a member of a Santa Safari team which worked with a Christmas-themed tour operator.

She died after being stabbed 10 times in the chest on 4 December 2016.

Image source, Finnish courts
Image caption,
Screams were heard coming from the couple's cabin

She had 30 other stabbing injuries across her body, and showed signs of defensive wounds on her hands.

Last year, prosecutor Juhani Maki told the court in in Rovaniemi that some of Ms Johnson's wounds were inflicted either when her back was turned to Mr Frybl as the attack began or when she was trying to escape from their cabin.

Image source, Finnish Police
Image caption,
Lapland Police Department released a photo of the spot where Mr Frybl was detained

Verbal and physical abuse

The trial was told there was a history of verbal and physical abuse in the relationship.

WhatsApp messages from Ms Johnson to her sister were read out in court, in which her sister urged her to report him to his employers, adding: "This will escalate and he may end up killing you."

The court was told the couple had argued the night before Ms Johnson's death and had slept in separate cottages.

Image source, Finnish courts
Image caption,
Prosecutors said the wounds on Ms Johnson's back could have been inflicted as she tried to escape

When arrested Mr Frybl was found to have two stab wounds to his stomach, which prosecutors claim were self-inflicted.

Mr Frybl's lawyer suggested he was instead stabbed by Ms Johnson.

His lawyer said Mr Frybl had served with the Czech army in Kosovo and Afghanistan, which may have left him with mental health problems that contributed to his temporary breakdown.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Rebecca Johnson was working as a guide for a Christmas-themed tour operator

After two days of testimony last August, the trial judge said 36-year-old Frybl should be held in custody while mental health checks were carried out.

Frybl's defence was that he suffered a blackout during the killing and did not remember it.

He said he had had a few other blackouts before.

However, the psychiatric tests did not agree with his defence.

The court found the attack was particularly brutal, which meets the threshold for murder under Finnish law.