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CRIME

French driver ‘drugged and sexually assaulted’ women on ride-share trips

A Frenchman is on trial accused of eight sexual assaults on young women he drugged with chocolate mixed with tranquilisers after they signed up to travel with him in his car via ride-sharing app Bla Bla Car.

French driver 'drugged and sexually assaulted' women on ride-share trips
Photo: AFP

The 52-year-old was finally arrested in November 2014 when one of his alleged victims ended up in hospital after reacting badly to the cocktail of tranquilisers and antidepressants.

His alleged routine was to offer his passengers chocolate when they got into the car which he frequently drove from his home in Nantes to the Calais area to visit relations, France Bleu reported.

When the young women passed out, he allegedly sexaully assaulted them. When they woke up they didn’t know what had happened and the only unusual thing they noticed was that the trip took longer than it should have.

The man ferried around 50 passengers over a nine-month period leading up to his arrest. He has admitted to sexual assault on eight women aged between 20 and 30. Police suspect there may be other victims.

He went on trial on Monday in Nantes accused of administering toxic substances and sexual assault. He faces up to seven years in jail if convicted.

The accused has said in his defence that he suffered from loneliness and had no social life, according to France Bleu.

 

CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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