As a three-part documentary series living up to its title in every way imaginable, Netflix’s ‘The King Who Never Was’ can only be described as equal parts baffling, engaging, and haunting. That’s because it delves deep into the way the exiled last heir to Italy’s throne was involved in the tragic 1978 death of German teen Dirk Geerd Hamer through an incident in Cavallo, France. So now, if you just wish to learn more about the same — with a specific focus on the events to have transpired, its ensuing investigations, as well as its overall aftermath — we’ve got you covered.
How Did Dirk Geerd Hamer Die?
It was in the summer of 1978 when 19-year-old Marburg Lahn native Dirk was vacationing alongside his family in wondrous Porto Rotondo, ️Sardinia, that his entire world turned upside down. The truth is he was athletic, kind, bright, and creative to such an extent he had an undeniably promising future ahead, plus it had nothing to do with the fact he was the son of two known doctors. Thus, of course, once news of the August 18 early hours Cavallo occurring came to light, it shocked not only his loved ones but also the whole of Europe owing to the sheer fortuity at every step.
After all, Dirk was in the area solely because a big group of youngsters had invited his sister Birgit for a day out on the island’s outskirts, just for their father to agree if the teen could tag along. The original plan was for them to return the evening of August 17 itself, yet they simply couldn’t due to dangerous tides; hence, they all adjusted and decided to spend the night on their three boats. However, they’d taken a dingy from a nearby yacht to travel ashore for some proper dinner, unaware it would lead to a brutal, fatal confrontation when its owner realized it hadn’t been returned.
As per the group, they awoke a few hours past midnight to sounds of what seemed like someone opening an oxygen tank, followed by a bunch of shouted curse words and theft accusations. That’s when Nicky Pende went outside to face their complainant, only for him to ostensibly fire two shots right at the boats before the former could throw both him as well as the rifle overboard. But alas, it was too late — one of the bullets had allegedly spanned across the vessels to hit Dirk’s belly as he lay asleep in the furthest one. He subsequently endured a leg amputation, 19 surgeries, and months of pure agony until he passed away from his injuries on December 7, 1978.
How Did Dirk Geerd Die?
While there’s no denying the hours after the shooting was chaos, the authorities were able to arrest their supposed triggerman, Italian Prince Vittorio Emmanuel, despite his diplomatic standing. This is owing to the simple fact none of the witnesses’ testimonies ever contradicted, plus even the last exiled heir himself didn’t deny any significant aspect of the atrocious incident under inquiry. In fact, while Dirk was still fighting for his life in a local hospital days later, the royal signed a confession in Ajaccio elucidating that the firing of his unlicensed rifle had resulted in the teen’s wound.
Though the one thing Vittorio vehemently asserted was that he hadn’t aimed for the boats — he said the first shot was fired in the air as a warning, whereas the second was entirely accidental. So since it was the latter to have hit Dirk, according to the initial analysis of the crime scene, shell casings, and recovered bullet fragments, he was detained in a local correctional facility without bond. Nevertheless, within two months, all charges against the Prince were dismissed on insufficient evidence, following which the bullet fragment as well as his confession supposedly went missing.
There have actually been speculations around whether Vittorio abused his position of power to get free, yet none of them have ever been substantiated in any way, shape, or form by legal authorities. Moreover, since he later recanted his statements too, claiming shock and the unawareness of another weapon being on board as the reason he’d assumed responsibility, nothing could be done. The fact this recovered revolver belonging to one of the boat owners had two missing bullets didn’t help either — but it was kept below deck, and no one aboard had any motive to slay the teen.
Therefore, it took years for Birgit to gather enough information as well as find a willing attorney to file a lawsuit against Vittorio, resulting in the Assize Court of Paris agreeing to a criminal trial. It was on October 11, 1989, that the heir was indicted of involuntary manslaughter, knowingly inflicting lethal injury, and felony use of an unlicensed firearm, for which he faced trial in the fall of 1991. Yet with the help of several character witnesses, he was found guilty of only the latter count while being acquitted of all others prior to being handed a six-month suspended prison sentence.
However, everything changed when Vittorio was caught confessing to Dirk’s death on tape while detained on unrelated charges of corruption and sex trafficking in 2006. He’d said, in part, “I was in the wrong… but I must say I fooled them [the French judges],” which he later did his best to deny by publicly asserting technological manufacturing. It didn’t work, but the courts could not re-indict Vittorio on criminal counts owing to his 1991 formal acquittal, meaning it was just his 2015 loss in the defamation lawsuit stemming from this video that makes it appear he’s guilty.