Frenchman jailed for 25 years for murdering retired British neighbour

A Frenchman was on Thursday sentenced to 25 years in jail for murdering his retired British neighbour in rural Normandy and dumping his body in a well.

Frenchman jailed for 25 years for murdering retired British neighbour
The peaceful Pierres in western Normandy where David King lived before being murdered. AFP

A Frenchman was on Thursday sentenced to 25 years in jail for murdering his British neighbour and dumping his body in a well.

Emmanuel Tenret, 31, claimed in court that “hunger” drove him to kill David King, (see pic) a 71-year-old former car mechanic who loved to grow and cook his own food at his retirement home in Pierres, in the Calvados department of Normandy.

“I was in need at that point. I lost my senses. I saw the freezer through the window. I broke in. Unfortunately he (King) came earlier than expected,” Tenret said.

In court he admitted killing King and disposing of his body down the well.

During the investigation Tenret has told police that he had “a memory lapse” and could not remember the incident.

He also told investigators that he lived an impoverished and isolated life ever since the death of his father in 2012. According to psychiatrists Tenret suffers from “mental immaturity”.

King's daughter, Sandra Ray, who lives in Australia, told the court in Caen that her frugal father lived for his garden.

“His passion was the garden, he liked to make jam, cheese and cakes and give them to his friends,” she said.

The court also heard that King was likely killed with either a chisel or pickaxe and that Tenret returned to the house for several weeks after the 
murder to take food or have a shower.

King was reported missing in November 2014. His body was found at the bottom of Tenret's well in April 2015.

He had gone missing after having tea with friends. French police were criticized by his family after initially refusing to open up a missing persons case, believing he had travelled to Australia to visit his daughter.

But, friends said he had left his passport and medication for a heart condition at home, so was unlikely to have flown abroad.

David King's car was found abandoned in a nearby town in January 2015.

After his arrest Tenret admitted the pair had had a row and had given police “incoherent accounts” of what happened.


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French police track forest fire-starters by air and land

On the ground, two officers from a special mobile brigade of France's paramilitary gendarmerie speed along a forest track.

French police track forest fire-starters by air and land

Above them, a helicopter scans the landscape to warn them of any fires or anyone who might be looking to start one.

These are the members of a newly created police team who have just started patrolling in southwest France to seek out and arrest the fire-starters devastating the region’s forests.

In the last week, no less than 20 fires have broken out in the forest bordering the seaside resort of Soulac-sur-Mer in the La Gironde department of southwest France, says the local gendarmerie.

While some have burned for just a 100 square metres (322 square feet), the largest devoured 30 hectares (74 acres) of forest.

Scorched trees and charred trunks line the paths and cycle paths that criss-cross the woods.

To stop the devastation, local officials have sent in the new unit, the Forest Vigilance Platoon (PVF) made up of 15 reservist gendarmes, a senior police officer and two motorcyclists from the mobile brigade, backed up by the

Spread across three zones, the PVF patrol the forest on motorbikes, all-terrain bicycles or in cars, where possible, on the hunt for fire-starters.

Set up just last week they started patrolling on Thursday.

The idea is that the PVF will free up firefighters who have been stretched thin battling blazes that since Tuesday have burned up 7,400 hectares of pine forests at the southern end of Gironde.

“After the major fires in July, we observed a rise in the number of arson cases,” said Martin Guespereau, deputy prefect for defence and security in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which covers the Gironde.

“There are around twenty fires of unknown origin a day in Gironde.”

 According to France’s National Forests Office (ONF) nine out of 10 fires were started by people — and three out of 10 were started deliberately.

Forest off-limits

“The Forest Vigilance Platoon is a support division, whose aim is to prevent, detect and possible to arrest,” said Captain Christophe Roque, who was given the job of putting the team together.

Red-and-white signs at the edge of the Soulac-sur-Mer forest inform walkers that due to the “very severe” risk of fire, the forest is off-limits to the public until further notice — and has been since August 11.

A few cyclists were nevertheless out on the trails on Saturday, and were quickly intercepted by the gendarmes of the PVF.

“As soon as we come across someone, we get their identity,” said one member of the team, Bruno Kechtoff. “Because if we come across the same person several times, then that becomes suspicious.”

A message comes over the radio: two outbreaks of fire barely 500 metres (yards) apart, near Bazas, south of Bordeaux, the regional capital. A local has reported seeing someone on a moped wearing “yellow-trimmed” trousers”.

The LVF’s helicopter veers off towards Bazas, 130 kilometres away (80 miles) away.

Where they are sent next depends on where the next fires break out, says Constable Jeremy Hernandez. “We have been called here urgently but we can move if other areas are concerned.”

Then they are in their car and driving off, siren wailing, on the look-out for a quad reported in the woods.