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The Daily Mail
By Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail
- The 42-year-old accountant is suspected of smothering her own baby
- He was killed whilst he and his older brother slept during French holiday
- It is claimed she admitted the killing to police, saying she was ‘exhausted’
- The mother had been behaving erratically during the summer holiday
A British mother confessed to killing her five-month-old son after a heated row with her husband in the South of France, prosecutors alleged yesterday.
The 42-year-old accountant is suspected of smothering the baby, named only as Daniel, as he and his older brother slept beside her on the final day of their week-long holiday.
It is claimed she admitted the killing to police, saying she was ‘exhausted’ and ‘submerged by feelings of powerlessness’.
The mother had been behaving erratically during the holiday in Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle, ten miles from Biarritz in south-west France, prosecutors said. On the eve of the death she allegedly drove off with Daniel in the family’s BMW estate for several hours after a row with her husband.
The woman, who has not been named, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital as French police continued to investigate.
A man, believed to be Daniel’s father, was yesterday accompanied by officers as he left the gite where the tragedy happened on Saturday morning.
It is thought he had been packing for the drive back to the family’s home in the London suburbs when he heard their two-year-old son, Ben, shouting from the bedroom where he had been sleeping with his mother and younger brother. His wife emerged moments later without saying what had happened – but when he went to check on the children he found Daniel’s lifeless body in the bed.
He rushed to see the gite’s owner who immediately called the emergency services, but the baby was pronounced dead at the scene. After a coroner gave the cause of death as suffocation, police were brought in and arrested the mother.
Prosecutor Marc Mariee, who is leading the investigation, told reporters the mother was suspected of smothering the baby ‘with her own hands’. He also claimed she had been behaving in a way that ‘drew attention to herself’ during the holiday.
On one occasion during a day trip she had driven off with the children and left her husband at a lake, he said. The parents had an argument in the gite on the night before they were due to leave, and the woman is said to have driven off again for three hours with Daniel.
The following day her husband found Daniel’s body as he was packing,’ said Mr Mariee. ‘The mother told officers she had smothered Daniel. She said she was submerged by feelings of powerlessness that led her to this act. She said she was exhausted.’
The woman was later seen by a psychiatrist who described her as ‘very disturbed’, the prosecutor added. Daniel’s body has been moved to Bordeaux where an autopsy is expected to be carried out this week. Mr Mariee said the mother, who was the family breadwinner, had previously been treated for depression in hospital in the UK. She had no known history of violence.
The family were staying in a half-timbered gite on the edge of Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle, a village in the Basque province of Labourd. It has a beach at a nearby lake as well as trails for walkers and mountain bikers.
The gite’s owner, who lives on the ground floor, said the family had appeared ‘pleasant and happy’ apart from the row on the eve of Daniel’s death, adding: ‘They seemed like a perfectly normal couple to me. On the final night there were raised voices and she drove off with the baby for several hours.’
Additional reporting: Emily Kent Smith