Sex-trap teenage killers may serve half jail term

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TWO FRENCH teenagers given long jail sentences last week for the murder of a 16-year-old boy, whom they enticed into a sexual trap copied from the movie Natural Born Killers, could be released after serving less than half their terms.

Veronique Herbert, 18 at the time of the murder, was jailed for 15 years on Friday. Her boyfriend, Sebastien Paindavoine, 17 at the time and regarded by prosecutors as the junior partner, was given 12 years. With good conduct and time already served on remand, they can expect to be released within six or seven years.

The pair had admitted thestabbing of Abdeladim Ghabiche, 16, in Sebastien's bedroom in a town in the eastern suburbs of Paris in March 1996.

They had persuaded him to come to the house with the promise of a sexual encounter with Veronique. After the boy had climbed into bed with her, Sebastien, and then Veronique, stabbed him with knives hidden in the bedclothes. After burying his body in the garden, they fled in Sebastien's father's car and were arrested three days later in the Massif Central.

The case follows the trial of another teenage killer, Florence Rey, jailed the previous week for 20 years for her part in four murders during a car-chase in 1994.

Veronique's diary, and statements made to the police, told of her obsession with the Oliver Stone movie Natural Born Killers, the story of two American teenagers who commit a series of random murders.

Veronique's father, Guy, a supporter of the North American Indians' cause, said after the case that he accepted some of the blame because he had taken her to the United States to watch their rituals, some involving great pain, and had himself participated in them. "I must have disturbed her mind," he said.

The juvenile court at Saint-Denis said that it had imposed relatively light sentences because it accepted that Veronique was psychologically disturbed at the time and that Sebastien, an apprentice in his father's cleaning company, was a juvenile.

Although the case was heard in camera, Maitre Francis Terquem, a lawyer for the victim's parents, told reporters that "the only sorrow [the killers] showed was towards themselves". When the pair fled, Veronique had left a note for her mother which said: "Take care of my CDs."