• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Baby 'forced to live in car boot' in France

Dan MacGuill · 28 Oct 2013, 10:47

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.

Story continues below…

“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
€5 to the coast? Ouibus rolls out new summer lines
Photo: Ouibus

Fancy heading to the coast for just €5 this summer?

Brexit
When France 'ignored' the result of an EU referendum
Demonstrators hold signs reading 'Respect our No, an other Europe is possible' after the EU constitution which was rejected in a referendum in 2005. Photo: AFP

The UK has voted to Leave the EU... but can the Brexit vote simply be ignored? Here's what happened in France's own EU referendum 11 years ago.

Tensions mount as thousands protest France's labour laws
French anti-riot police officers hold a man during a demonstration against controversial labour reforms, on June 28, 2016 on Bastille Square in Paris. Photo: AFP

Police are on high alert as tensions have begun to service during the latest labour reform protest in Paris.

The bright side of Brexit: The 'good news' for Brits in France
Photo: AFP

Well the UK voted to Leave the EU, the pound is tumbling, and stock markets have been in turmoil, but it's not all bad news for Brits living and working in France... right?

New map of France finalized as regions settle on names
Photo: AFP

It's done. The names have all been decided on after lots of arguing. Here's the new map of France.

Eiffel Tower closes as workers join latest strike
Photo: AFP

The Iron Lady is on strike on Tuesday.

Labour law protests
Paris: 2,500 police on alert for new labour law protest
Police carry out bag checks at Thursday's protest. Photo: AFP

Paris is on high alert on Tuesday as the city is set to play host to the 11th demonstration against new labour reform bill, which will be voted on by the Senate on the same day.

French police lifeguards get guns for summer beach patrol
Photo: AFP

Keep an eye out for life guards with guns on beaches in France this summer.

What will change in France from July 2016
Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

July will see some changes in France, and here's how you'll be affected.

France tells UK to hurry up and get on with EU divorce
Photo: AFP

"Don't waste any time," France tells UK. "We don't want anymore uncertainty."

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,736
jobs available