Father accused of murdering three-year-old son by putting him in a washing machine in France

'Daddy put Bastien in the washing machine because he was naughty at school,' the boy's sister allegedly told emergency services when they arrived

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The Independent Online

A father has been charged with murdering his own three-year-old son in France by locking him in a washing machine and switching it on.

Christophe Champenois, 36, allegedly put the boy, Bastien, into the drum and started a spin cycle, which fatally wounded him, before the machine was set to wash the body for up to an hour.

As Bastien screamed and begged for his parents to let him out, his father calmly surfed the internet, while his mother did a jigsaw puzzle with his five-year-old sister just metres away, Le Figaro reported.

When Champenois removed the lifeless body from the washing machine, he allegedly told Bastien's mother: "At least he won't bother us anymore."

Charlene Cotte, the mother of Bastien, said she tried to stop him being put in the washing machine

Champenois has been charged with aggravated murder, while Charlene Cotte has been accused of complicity in their son’s death on 25 November 2011.

Their trial started on Tuesday at the Court of Assizes in Melun, a south-eastern suburb of Paris.

Champenois has claimed he suffers from alcoholism and illness causing memory problems, telling the court that he cannot remember the day of his son’s death.

He allegedly called emergency services from the family’s flat in Germigny-l’Eveque on the evening claiming the child had fallen down the stairs and then accidentally drowned in the bath, the Dauphiné Libéré reported.

But when a neighbour arrived, the little boy’s older sister Marie told them: “Daddy put Bastien in the washing machine because he was naughty at school."

She repeated the statement to the emergency services, unravelling her parents’ alleged lies.

The case has generated concern about child protection in France

Hours before, Cotte had informed Champenois that their son had been told off at school for flushing a fellow pupil’s drawing down the toilet.

The mother told the court that she saw her partner put their son in the machine but denied aiding him, claiming she tried to stop Champenois but was shoved backwards.

The 29-year-old said her partner regularly beat Bastien, once locking the boy in a cupboard with his hands taped up so he could not escape, Liberation reported.

The case has raised concern about child protection policies in France after the revelation that the family had been known to social services for several years.

On the evening before Bastien died, his father left a message for his social worker, saying: “I’m going to throw (Bastien) from the second floor, even if I get 15 years in prison.”

But the worker was on sick leave and did not hear the threat until the boy was already dead.

The trial continues.