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New York 'cannibal cop' walks free from jail

Published on Jul 2, 2014 4:20 AM
Former New York City police officer Gilberto Valle (centre), dubbed by local media as the "Cannibal Cop," leaves the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in Lower Manhattan, July 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - A former New York policeman found guilty of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat women - including his wife - was released from jail on Tuesday by a federal judge who overturned his conviction.

The trial of 30-year-old Gilberto Valle - dubbed the "cannibal cop" - gripped the Big Apple and fanned global headlines, exposing the lurid world of cannibal fantasists. He was convicted in March 2013 and faced life in prison, but was freed from jail just 21 months into his sentence because of lack of evidence.

Valle scoured websites catering to the gruesome fetishes of so-called "death-porn" enthusiasts and detailed his plans to abduct women, boasting that he would torture, kill and eat them. He drew up a detailed list of his potential victims, including friends and his wife, the mother of his child, who eventually turned him in to the FBI and testified against him in court.

But in a 118-page ruling, US District Court Judge Paul Gardephe said no matter how disturbing Valle's "deviant and depraved" fantasies may have been, no actual crime took place. "No one was ever kidnapped, no attempted kidnapping ever took place, and no real world, non-Internet based steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone," he wrote. "Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle's deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient - standing alone - to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping."

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