Briton quizzed over wife's death in France

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The Independent Online

A British man was being questioned by police today over the death of his wife after charred remains were discovered at their French chateau.

Prosecutors said they were investigating claims that Joanne Hall, 49, died during a drunken row with husband Robert.

He is then alleged to have burned her body before burying her ashes in concrete.

Police in Brittany arrested the 55-year-old and he appeared before magistrates yesterday when he was remanded in custody.

The Halls, who have three children, are believed to have moved to the region around a decade ago and rented out their property to tourists.

With 15 bedrooms, Chateau de Fretay in Fougeres, near Rennes, is advertised on websites as featuring a nine-hole golf course, parkland, lakes and a go-karting circuit, and costs visitors more than £5,000 a week in high season.

At the time of Mrs Hall's suspected death on Friday, the site was undergoing renovation work to build gites and a golf course.

Catherine Denis, from the prosecutor's office in Rennes, told a press conference that police responded to a call from the Hall family at the weekend.

"There was a drunken argument with his wife, during which she fell," she said.

According to Mrs Denis, Mr Hall spoke to police about building a mausoleum as part of a "pact" with his wife.

She added that the remains found at the house had not yet been formally identified.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are aware of an incident in France involving two British nationals.

"We have approached next of kin to offer consular assistance."