Frederic Magave-Marques was found guilty by a Paris court on Thursday of robbery that resulted in death after a fatal incident at Etienne Marcel Metro station in central Paris on December 27th, 2010.
The death of Vy-Anh Nguyen had left France shocked and prompted the then President Nicolas Sarkozy to talk about the affair during his New Year’s day speech in January 2011.
The accused told the court in Paris this week that he had tried to steal a mobile phone from another woman as she walked along the station’s platform.
He said he then ran “like a madman” and accidentally pushed 27-year-old Vy-Anh Nguyen on the staircase as he tried to get away.
But his version of events were disputed by prosecutors who claimed he had robbed the woman of her MP3 player and purposefully shoved her as she tried to stop him from getting away.
Although a damaged set of earphones were found on the victim, the MP3 player has not been traced.
One witness had told police they reported seeing the accused “standing still on his feet” and not, in fact, running away, as he had claimed.
Another witness reported seeing him “put all his power” into the push.
“He pushed her off her feet, and saw her fall backwards,” said Jean-Marc Albert, lawyer for the family, who accused Magave Marques of “intolerable lies”.
Albert also challenged the robber, over his claims not to have heard about Nguyen’s death until weeks later.
“How could you not know? It caused a wave of emotion across the whole of France,” he said.
For his part the accused told judges: “I will always have this on my conscience. I have committed the irreparable.”