An Austrian duke is in the dock for killing his father, stepmother, and his brother with a shotgun at close range in a row over the family’s countryside castle.
Duke Tono Goess, owner of Bockfliess Castle near the town of Mistelbach in the Austrian state of Lower Austria, was arrested in December on suspicion of murdering his family members.
According to local media, the 54-year-old duke confessed immediately to the cops that he killed his 92-year-old father Johannes Ulrich, his 87-year-old stepmother Margherita and his 52-year-old brother Ernst.
Goess is currently on trial in the city of Korneuburg, where he tearfully recounted how he took a shotgun during a family gathering at Bockfliess Castle and fired at them at close range five times, according to reports.
He said: “I felt the responsibility for the family, for the preservation of the property.”
Goess, whose noble family was handed land and titles by the Habsburgs in 1530, said that his father was a despot who preferred to decide everything by himself.
He added: “My father did not accept weakness or illness.”
Reports said that Goess was often ill as a child and was weakened by an aortic rupture in 2017.
Goess said: “I was in intensive care for three months, my dad only visited me once, for the record. I quickly went back to work. I wanted to be strong.”
Reports said that a major issue between the father and son was the conflict over castle construction and renovation projects.
Goess said: “I wanted to do it the correct way through the authorities, my father did not think much of that.”
This was also the case with the construction of a dumbwaiter when Goess, concerned about the monument status of the castle, wanted to get an official permit which allegedly enraged his father.
According to local media, when they gathered in the fireplace room for a family meeting, the defendant’s brother, who he always considered an ally, sided with his father and criticised him.
Goess said: “It was everything combined which got the better of me. Everything became too much.
“My father told me ‘you cannot have children and you will never have them’. My brother admonished me, ‘Tono, you must obey our father’. Even my stepmother, who I did not care for at all, talked me down. I just couldn’t handle it anymore.”
Reports said that Judge Bodner pressed Goess on the murders as he found it strange that he targeted his brother Ernst first.
The judge had often heard tales of how much the duke loved his brother and how they often skipped family meals to eat at a local sausage stall in town instead.
Judge Bodner said: “One could think that you shot the strongest first, your brother. Then the father and finally the stepmother, who could not defend herself because she was handicapped.”
According to Goess, whose lawyer was pleading for a conviction on manslaughter charges instead of murder, there was “no determined order”.
The trial is ongoing.
Austria stripped its aristocrats of their titles in 1919 but many continue to use them outside of the country. In other monarchies in Europe, Austrian nobles still retain their noble status.
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