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The Guy Who Kicked a Woman Down a Flight of Stairs Will Go to Prison

In December of last year, CCTV footage was released of a man kicking a woman in the back in a Berlin underground station. Today, Svetoslav S. was sentenced to almost three years in prison.
Screenshot of CCTV footage of the attack

A version of this article originally appeared on VICE Germany

Earlier today, 28-year-old Svetoslav Stoykov was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison for kicking a woman down a flight of stairs in an underground station in Berlin late last year. The attack, the search for the attacker and the trial have been part of Germany's national conversation for months.

Just after midnight on the 27th of October, 2016, a 26 year-old woman was physically attacked as she walked through the Hermannstraße underground station in the Neukölln neighbourhood in Berlin. While going down the stairs, her attacker kicked her in the back, sending her flying down onto the platform. The fall left her with a broken arm and cuts to her face. CCTV footage of the incident shows that, as she lay there, the attacker took a drag of his cigarette and calmly walked away.


By the time the police arrived, the man had gotten away. When there was still no trace of him seven weeks later, the police released a video of the attack to the public. The video quickly spread. The story dominated German media for days and the video went viral internationally. While the CCTV footage of the assault inspired a lot of outrage, it also inspired a few copycat attacks. In Munich, a woman was robbed and pushed down an escalator, and a similar incident happened in Stuttgart.

Soon after the public search began in December, Bulgarian Svetoslav Stoykov was arrested at Berlin's main coach station. He had just arrived from France. Stoykov has been in custody ever since – initially accused of manslaughter, but when prosecutors weren't able to find proof that he intended to kill the victim, his charge was reduced to grievous bodily harm.

In June, Stoykov testified that although he accepts responsibility for the attack, he doesn't remember committing the crime. He claimed it wasn't until his mother called him after seeing the footage that he became aware of what he had done. He said that on the evening of the attack he was at his four-year-old niece's birthday party. When the children's part of the party was over, he took cocaine, smoked weed and drank vodka and beer. After getting in a heated argument with his brother, he left the party and went to a series of bars with friends, where he drank more alcohol and took crystal meth. The next thing he claims to remember is waking up the following morning at the final stop on the U8 train line.

This morning, on the last day of the trial, a court-appointed expert, Dr. Alexander Böhler, said that Stoykov shouldn't be held fully responsible for his actions. The physician testified that Stoykov sustained brain injuries in a car crash back in 2009, and that this crash has left him with chronic memory loss, and an inability to control some of his actions.

Earlier in the trial, the victim testified that the incident left her with physical and emotional injuries. "My life seemed to stop after the attack," she said. "I stopped studying, avoided walking anywhere on my own. I didn't go outside for four months."

While in court, Svetoslav Stoykov took the opportunity to apologise to her. "I am sorry about what happened, I regret everything," he said. "Believe me I'm still in shock. My hands and feet are shaking."