A Frenchwoman has been convicted for killing eight of her newborns over more than a decade and been sentenced to nine years in jail following a a dramatic and teary murder trial.
Dominique Cottrez, who is 51 and has two grown-up daughters, faced up to life in prison by the court in the northern city of Douai.
The penalty is less severe than the 18 years required by the advocate general.
Jurors, after five hours of deliberation, did not accept premeditated murder for the first infanticide, but stressed a “ fixed design “ for the following babies.
They also acknowledged Cottrez suffered diminished mental health.
Prosecutor Eric Vaillant sought a sentence of 18 years because she suffered from psychological problems and from proven neuroses, according to Vaillant’s office.
Cottrez told investigators she was raped by her father and was involved in a long, incestuous relationship with him, and feared the babies were children of incest.
But during the trial, she said she hadn’t been raped by her father, according to French media reports. Tests showed her husband had fathered the children and she admitted in court she had fabricated the story to try to explain the killings.
Cottrez was accused of suffocating eight of her babies between 1989 and 2000, shortly after secretly giving birth to them.
She was able to hide her pregnancies from her entire family due to her obesity. She gave birth to most of the babies in the bathroom of her home near the Belgian border.
In July 2010, a new owner moved into Cottrez’s parents’ home in the northern French village of Villers-au-Tertre. He later discovered the corpses of two infants wrapped in plastic bags buried in the garden.
Police later found a further six bodies in a tank in the garage of Cottrez’s home.
Cottrez told investigators she believed the children were the result of a sexual relationship she had with her father, who later died in 2007.
However, tests showed her husband had fathered the children and she admitted in court she made up the story to try to explain the children’s deaths.
“I did all this alone, I admit it,” she told the court, though she added she believed her husband was aware of what was happening.
Magistrate Annelise Cau said the killings were carried out with “determination, awareness, organisation and above all cool-headedness.”
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