Mother faces life in jail for killing six newborns
A FRENCH mother murdered six of her newborn babies in almost as many years and hid their bodies in a cellar, a court was told yesterday.
Celine Lesage (38) faces life in prison for "aggravated homicide" after choking four babies by placing her finger in their mouths and strangling two others who were "more vivacious" with a cord.
She secretly delivered the infants alone between August 2000 and September 2007, putting "the babies and their dirty clothes neatly in a sealed plastic bag and (hiding) them", according to the prosecution.
"Her attitude was wholly ambivalent. On the one hand, she expressed her desire to have children, and then she refused to keep them," the court was told.
Lesage, who admitted the charges in court, was described as a "modest and otherwise ordinary housewife" who performed charity work and had a 14-year-old son.
She had "no idea" why she had killed her children, the prosecutor said.
"I won't do it again," she told the court.
Pascal Catherine (39) Lesage's former boyfriend who fathered the first five of the murdered babies, was in the public gallery of the court.
Mr Catherine was originally arrested for not reporting a crime and hiding the bodies. But he was cleared after he claimed he thought the babies had been stillborn or aborted.
Lesage and Mr Catherine, a plumber, ended their relationship in the spring of 2006 after five years of marriage.
Lesage's secret was uncovered on October 19, 2007, when a new boyfriend, Luc Margueritte, a print worker, discovered the bodies.
Mr Margueritte, a prosecution witness, was "led to the cellar by the terrible smell of decomposing corpses and found them wrapped up in their bags", the court was told.
Lesage claimed she lived in fear of Mr Catherine, accusing him of being violent. But the investigation failed to find evidence that he had a "domineering attitude".
Lesage is accused of first-degree murder and faces a life sentence if convicted, with no possibility of parole for 18 years.
Her lawyer is claiming diminished responsibility, a lesser crime.
Lesage's defence said: "The facts of the case are not in dispute, but there is medical and psychological evidence to consider. My client believes she is responsible, but not guilty."
The trial is expected to last four days. (© Daily Telegraph, London)