Briton held over gruesome child murders

2013-05-19 18:47
Gendarmes. (Laurent Cipriani, AP)

Gendarmes. (Laurent Cipriani, AP)

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Lyon - French police on Sunday were questioning a 48-year-old divorced Briton arrested on suspicion of slitting the throats of his two young children, judicial officials said.

The bodies of the two children aged five and 10 were discovered on Saturday afternoon in his apartment in Saint-Priest, a southeastern suburb of the central city of Lyon.

He was arrested the same evening in the centre of Lyon and placed in custody. A judicial source said a knife which is thought to have been the murder weapon had been found.

The source said the man had visitation rights but only in the presence of another person, adding that this was the first time he brought the children home to his apartment on the second floor of a four-storey building.

Several witnesses said the man fled on roller skates after his former wife encountered him on the stairwell of the building and saw him with bloodstained clothes. She immediately alerted the police.

A neighbour said the mother was soon joined by relatives, including her brother-in-law and the childrens' grandparents, and was lucid although in shock.

A psychiatrist from the emergency services was immediately dispatched to counsel her.

"They were devastated but relatively composed," the neighbour said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"She said: 'He has killed them'. I tried to comfort her saying we didn't know as yet although I knew at the bottom of my heart that they were dead."

Ahmed Benguedda, another neighbour, told AFP the couple had divorced "two or three years ago" and that the man had drinking problems and was a wife beater.

The wife, who worked as an assistant accountant, moved out of the apartment after the divorce and was living in the Isere region of eastern France.

But the children were "well-balanced", said Benguedda, whose seven-year-old daughter often played with them.

"All the people in this building are in a state of shock," Benguedda said.

Read more on:    france

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