• France's news in English
 

Baby 'forced to live in car boot' in France

Published: 28 Oct 2013 10:47 GMT+01:00

Workers at a garage in Terrasson, in the south-western department of Dordogne were alarmed to hear moans coming from the boot of a car brought in for repairs on Friday by a woman aged in her 40s.

The mechanics also became concerned about the strong odour of excrement coming from the boot of the Peugeot 307 Break.

However the woman reportedly dismissed their concerns, explaining that the strange noises were coming from toys which had just been switched on.

Unconvinced, the mechanics opened up the boot, only to find a naked and dehydrated baby girl in a basket, aged between 15 months and two years old.

“I felt that the baby needed air, that she was going to suffocate,” one of the mechanics told TF1 television.

The girl was conscious but in a filthy state and appeared to have a fever, the mechanics reported. Paramedics were called and she was immediately taken to hospital in nearby Brive-la-Gaillarde, TF1 reported.

The mechanic who found the girl, Guillaume Iguacel, told AFP on Monday that he was still reeling from the discovery.

"I'm still having trouble sleeping, it was a horrifying sight, seeing this little girl in her own excrement, not able to hold up her head, white as a sheet," he said.

Iguacel said the girl's mother appeared to have little concern for her daughter.

Offering further details on the girl's condition, local prosecutor Jean-Pierre Laffitte said: “The infant doesn’t have the right size or weight for her age, she is psychologically delayed, and she displays a mentality and behaviour that don’t conform to her age."

“The baby was hidden from all points of view, apparently since birth. It’s a situation that defies belief,” he added.

The story has horrified the French public since it broke over the weekend and Le Parisien newspaper reflected the tone of most reactions with their headline on Monday: "The inconceivable existence of the baby in the boot." 

As if the initial discovery was not shocking enough, disturbing reports from neighbours suggest that the girl may have been kept hidden away in the boot of the family car since birth.

"We had the impression that this woman lived in her car. She never left it," said Pascale, one of the family's neighbours.

"I recall seeing her several times a week with her car parked in a little lot about 200 metres from her house," she added, referring to a carpark hidden from view, between fields and a row of houses under construction.

"But we couldn't see what she was doing in the boot," said Pascale. Other neighbours told Le Parisien that the 45-year-old mother, named only as Rose-Marie, frequently used cardboard to cover the car. 

The couple’s neighbours have been reacting with shock to finding out the couple had a fourth child whose birth was never even registered with the state, and may even have been unknown to her father, a 40-year-old unemployed stone mason.

“The car always stayed outside at night [and not in the garage], so if the little girl was inside it, we didn’t see anything,” said one.

“We didn’t have much contact with them. [The mother] barely said hello, and they didn’t really want to integrate into the neighbourhood. How could we have known?” Claude, a pensioner who lives opposite the couple, told Le Parisien.

Police arrested the mother and father, who was heavily drunk at the time, on Friday.

For his part, the girl’s father has told investigators he was completely unaware of the child’s existence until her discovery on Friday, a claim backed up by the mother during her interview with police.

The parents, originally from Portugal but living in Brignac-la-Plaine in the department of Corrèze, have been charged with child abuse and neglect, and social services have taken into care their three other children, aged between four and 10 years old.

The couple risk ten-year prison terms if convicted, but prosecutors have emphasized that as of yet the case features many unanswered questions.

Don't miss a story about France - join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French baker 'tried to kill girlfriend with rolling pin'
Photo: Freeimages

French baker 'tried to kill girlfriend with rolling pin'

A baker has been arrested near the southern French city of Nice for allegedly attempting to kill his waitress girlfriend with a rolling pin, prosecutors said on Monday. READ  

French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or
Jacques Audiard (C) poses with Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (L) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan during a photocall after he was awarded with the Palme d'Or. Photo: AFP

French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or

A French thriller spotlighting the plight of traumatised refugees building new lives, "Dheepan", captured the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or top prize on Sunday. READ  

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane

French police have arrested a man who called in a false bomb alert to an airport to delay his girlfriend's flight because she was in danger of missing it, prosecutors said on Sunday READ  

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards
Cate Blanchett in Cannes. Photo: Valery Haché/AFP

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards

The competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival wraps up Saturday with a clutch of favourites jockeying for one of global cinema's most coveted prizes. READ  

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?
A Waterloo reenactment. Photo: AFP

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?

France stood accused this week of "sulking" because it failed to nominate any high-ranking official to attend the gigantic commemoration for the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. READ  

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed
Holidayers in Nice, southern France. Photo: AFP

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Paris is the most expensive region in France to spend a summer holiday... but where is the cheapest? A new study has found the answer. READ  

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs
The tyres are hauled up from the seabed. Photo: AFP

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs

Tourists and film stars hitting the beach at the French Riviera resort of Cannes may be blissfully unaware but lurking beneath the sparkling waves are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. READ  

French films
The best French films you've never heard of
French actor Tahar Rahim in a scene from A Prophet. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab

The best French films you've never heard of

With the Cannes Film Festival nearing its end and with everyone talking about everything film - we take a look back at the best ten French movies you've probably never heard of, thanks to French cinema expert Judith Prescott. READ  

Tourism in Paris
Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets
Tourists at the France's iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower was closed on Friday morning, as workers protested over the scourge of pickpockets around the famous monument, who they say have threatened and attacked them. READ  

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit
Photo: AFP

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit

A woman, who was reportedly pregnant, was found dead with her throat slit in a Paris apartment on Friday while her partner was left in a critical condition. An electric sander was found running beside their bodies. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Eurovision is around the corner - and we don't fancy France's chances
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Who's to blame? Trial after Frenchman dies downing 56 shots
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Business & Money
Why May 2015 is the best month in years to work in France
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
Culture
Only in France? Naked comedian stuns French culture minister
Migrant camps spring up in the heart of Paris
International
France bags another fighter jet deal but should Paris thank the US?
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
Politics
Why all the dodgy ties? A French view of the UK general election
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se