After a gruelling three-day trial, David Turtle was found guilty of deliberately killing his wife outside their home in Prayssac, southwest France.
The former car salesman and town councillor from England was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Friday – although he had been facing life imprisonment.
The prosecution argued that Turtle deliberately ran his wife over. The court heard that the couple had a late-night argument that started over the choice of a TV programme earlier in the evening.
Turtle denied that he deliberately drove into his wife, saying that he left the house to go for a drive and did not see her blocking the vehicle. He said that he put his foot on the accelerator and drove a few metres before realising that his wife was lying underneath the car. He claimed not to have realised immediately that he could feel any resistance under the tyres.
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Matthieu Chirez, a lawyer for the victim’s sister, pointed to inconsistencies in Turtle’s story. Court experts noted that in order for a stationary car to run over a body, it would have to accelerate at a staggering rate.
“It doesn’t hold up that Stephanie Turtle would voluntarily put herself under the wheels, knowing that he [David Turtle] wanted to leave,” said Chirez in comments reported local news site, ActuLot.
“What he did to her was a horror.”
Forensic reports revealed that Mrs Turtle had suffered multiple rib fractures, clavicular and scapular fractures, pulmonary lesions, abdominal trauma, and a fracture of the pelvis.
The prosecutor, David Serra, was definitive in his conclusion. “David Turtle could not have been unaware that Stephanie Turtle was in front of the car when he drove over her body,” he said, according to local media reports. “As soon as he pushed on the pedal, he crushed her.”
Turtle met his wife on a singles’ holiday in Turkey, when he was 40 years old. They moved to France, in 2016, to renovate a property they had bought, intending to turn it into a bed and breakfast.