Lover in killing spree may serve only six years

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FLORENCE REY, the enigmatic young woman involved in a murderous Parisian shoot-out with her anarchist boyfriend, may serve only six years in jail, despite being found guilty of four killings.

Relatives of the victims - three policemen and a taxi driver - spoke yesterday of their disappointment at the relatively lenient sentence of 20 years in prison handed down by the Cour d'Assises in Paris late on Wednesday night. With the usual remission for good behaviour, added to the four years in jail while awaiting trial, Rey, 23, can expect to be released in 2004.

The court rejected her lawyers' assertion that she was only a passive participant in the failed robbery and muddled car-chase in October 1994 in which five people died. The nine jurors found her to have been an accessory in three murders and jointly responsible - with her boyfriend, Aubry Maupin, who also died - for the killing of one policeman.

Nonetheless, the sentence chosen by the jury and three judges suggests that they accepted the defence argument that Rey, then 19, was acting out of character, under the emotional and psychological spell of her domineering lover.

Rey's principal lawyer, Maitre Henri Leclerc, said she was subjugated by an "adolescent passion" for Maupin, which made her unable to think rationally. "Aubry is dead. The relationship is dead. It is impossible that Florence could do such a thing again."

Much of the evidence suggested Rey was a more active partner than the defence claimed: it was she who bought one of the rifles used in the attempt to rob a police car-pound; it was she, according to witnesses, who was the calmer of the two raiders. The official psychiatric report, however, largely backed the defence case.

Lawyers for the victims' families said their clients were unhappy with the sentence but their "greatest sorrow" was that Rey never properly attempted to explain her motives to the court.