However, the court in Ghent also heard that the money found in the house in the Flemish town of Assenede in Belgium was not the couple’s to give away. The nine friends who received the money are also being prosecuted.
The public prosecutor told the court: “They shared the money as well-wishers. But of course, you cannot hand out money that is not yours. And the people who took the money should have known that Joey and Kimberley could not have come by such sums of money in a normal way.”
Sofie Vermeir, the lawyer for Kimberley, told the court her client had hoped the money would change the course of her life. She said: “They wanted to buy a house because they know all too well that such shelter is the start of a normal life.”
The owner of the abandoned building is said to want the cash returned.
Jesse van den Broeck, acting for Joey, said his client was an “honest finder” and should be allowed to keep the cash.
The prosecutor’s office is seeking 18-month suspended prison sentences and fines of €6,000 each for the couple. The judge is expected to give his decision in two weeks.
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