Police search house for dead babies

NO ONE seems to be sure how many babies there might be buried in the garden or the fields beyond. In a grimly distressing operation, reminiscent of the Fred West case in Britain, French police are digging through the garden of a rural slum near Lille, searching for the bodies of at least three, maybe as many as six, new-born babies.

The infants were the product of repeated sexual attacks over many years on the daughter of the house by two of her brothers. The men, aged 35 and 31, confessed to the crimes after they were arrested two months ago for keeping their father in slavery, imprisoned in a rabbit hutch and terrorised by a dog trained to attack him.

The two young men, Didier and Patrick Lefranc, were placed under formal examination for rape and murder yesterday; their allegedly crippled mother, Lucie, 67, sister Patricia, 25, and younger brother, Dominique, 22, face charges of being accessories to murder and failing to report crimes. The father, Paul, 76, has been placed, for his own safety, in an old person's home.

Patricia Lefranc has told police that she cannot recall how many times her brothers got her pregnant but she believes that she had at least three babies. One of the older brothers has admitted murdering the infants; the other denies any part in the murders but admits the other facts.

Neighbours of the Lefrancs, in the depressed former mining village of Illies, south of Lille, described a permanently drunken family, ruled by a fearsome matriarch - "fat Lucie" - and two violent brothers. The father, who was seen pushing his wife along the road in her wheel-chair, day and night, and in all weathers, was terrorised by his wife and elder sons for years.

The former miner was forced to share meals with the dog, which was trained to attack him. When police finally intervened, following chance remarks made by the daughter, Patricia, the old man was found to have dog bites all over his body.

Plastic screens have been erected around the Lefrancs' home while police, using a miniature excavator, search the back garden.

If no bodies are found, one senior police officer said, the search will be extended to the surrounding fields.

n Paris (AP) - Some French police have avoided arresting pickpockets recently to protest at the government's refusal to pay overtime to salaried officers, a union official said.

Union and police officials planning to meet today insisted the dispute would be settled before the onslaught of fans for the World Cup that begins on 10 June. The dispute began early this year when salaried police officers demanded to be paid for extra work.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk