Thomas Quick of Sweden confessed to over thirty murders between 1993 and 2000, and was convicted of eight of them over the course of six trials in Sweden. All the convictions relied on his blurred confessions.
He has since – between 2011 and 2013 – been exonerated for all of them. This case report will provide a detailed account of a real life case where the psychiatric patient has kept notes and documents from his period in the psychiatric hospital, uniquely demonstrating the gradual and subtle development of false confessions.
In addition to Saul Kassin and Lawrence Wrightsman´s three major types of false confessions, (voluntary, coerced-compliant, coerced-internalized) Quick´s confessions are an example of a fourth type of false confessions – coerced-reactive confessions, a subcategory of coerced confessions in that way, as they are not police induced.
The confessor has reacted to external pressures outside of the police interrogation setting. Joseph McCann ends his paper with the call for more research on how various sources of coercion impact on the interrogation and confession process and this paper attempts to provide a contribution to that end.
However, the Quick story is not only a story of injustice, but also a psychiatric care scandal. As the therapists, more or less unwittingly brought Quick to false confessions it illustrates how confirmation bias in psychiatric health care can poison the subsequent police investigation and result in wrongful convictions.
The Quick case teaches us that coerced-reactive false confessions in a therapy room can lead to miscarriage of justice in the courtroom.