"Brutalized, submissive": at the assizes of Pas-de-Calais, "hell" experienced by a fifty-year-old tried for the murder of her spouse

"Brutalized, submissive": at the assizes of Pas-de-Calais, "hell" experienced by a fifty-year-old tried for the murder of her spouse

"The tumble" of a woman "brutalized, submissive, exhausted": at the opening of the trial of Laurence S. for the murder of her husband before the assizes of Pas-de-Calais, the court retraced Wednesday September 29 their 26 years of common life, from the "first violence" to the "hell" of the last months.

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As soon as they met, “he was very authoritarian, he used to humiliate her. Over the years it got worse. She lost her job. They got into debt, it was a descent into hell, ”summarizes the mother of the accused at the bar, in a strangled voice. “When I had him on the phone, I knew if he was in the room. We felt that she was afraid, ”says the septuagenarian. “For me, it was her or him. She fought back."

In early April 2015, the body of Reynald S., 49, was discovered lying on the marital bed, dead for a fortnight and in a state of putrefaction. His wife Laurence, 47 years old at the time of the events, had remained cloistered in the apartment. She had quickly explained that during a violent argument, she had strangled her husband with the extension cord of the iron, when he had just tried to suffocate her with a pillow.

"Not allowed"

“I was afraid for my life” so “I took the extension” and “I squeezed”, explains the accused. Before hesitating, when the investigation did not make it possible to precisely identify the causes of death: "I think I did it (...) but I wonder if it really happened".

"You managed to push the pillow and get out of bed (...) why didn't you leave the room?" asks the president. “I had no right to leave. I could not. He told me to stay there, ”answers Laurence S., sober blue jacket and short hair.

At the helm, the personality investigator traces an “unhappy” childhood, “under the influence” of an often alcoholic father, violent with his mother. After short studies, Laurence S. was hired as a cashier in a supermarket, then met her husband in 1986.

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According to his relatives and colleagues, Reynald is "insulting, denigrating", he locks him up, "limits his expenses, his hours" of exit, isolates him and shows him no affection. After a few years Laurence S. has an affair, and her husband then switches to physical violence, "slaps, slaps, blows", according to the investigator.

Depressed after the death of his father, suffering from bi-polar disorder, Reynald S. was placed on disability in 2005. But the couple continued to “spend, do work”. So to pay off the debts, "appease the climate", Laurence regularly steals from her employer, and loses her job.

“Everyone supports Madame”

“Towards the end, he tyrannized her, woke her up at night, pulling her by the hair, so that she could make her coffee for him,” recounts the professional. According to the accused and several relatives, he had "threatened to kill her with her daughter if she left".

Timidly, Laurence S. testifies to his constant "fear", acquiesces to the evocation of "self-defense". "In a way, I'm relieved, with all the pain I've had," she sobbed.

"Finally, everyone supports Madame," observes the president, including within the family of the deceased, no member of whom has filed a civil action.

“If we cannot support your gesture, we understand it”, even wrote A., Reynald's sister to the accused, in a letter read at the hearing. "If my sister-in-law hadn't done that, I don't think she would be alive today (...) It's all my brother's fault," she repeated in court, as the President prepares to close the debates for the day.

Read alsoThe mixed results of the “Grenelle of domestic violence”

Thursday, September 30, the court will examine the circumstances of the death, while according to the autopsy report, corroborated by additional analyzes, the scientific findings are "not compatible" with strangulation using a cable or of a link. The verdict is expected Friday, October 1.

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