An Englishman under investigation for murdering his mother in France has told police she ‘fell down the stairs’ hours before dying in the front seat of his car.
Simon Odgers, 53, was arrested in Calais early on Friday morning as he tried to board a Channel ferry with the corpse of Barbara Odgers, 86, next to him.
The pair, from Bembridge in the Isle of Wight, had spent a couple of days on a break in France, where they own three homes.
Simon Odgers, 53, pictured, was arrested on Friday trying to board a Channel ferry in Calais with the corpse of his mother Barbara Odgers, 86, in the passenger seat. Due to his precarious mental state at the time of the arrest, Mr Odgers was taken to a psychiatric unit rather than into custody
Mr Odgers said that his mother Barbara, pictured, had suffered from ‘recurrent falls’ and had been diagnosed with cancer. Mr Odgers has told investigating officers that his mother died a few hours after she fell down the stairs at one of their holiday homes
But neighbours of their dilapidated property in the tiny hamlet of La Bost, near Chateau-Chinon, in Burgundy, became concerned when they heard ‘English voices shouting at each other’ on Wednesday.
An investigating source said detectives raided the house late on Friday and ‘found blood on the staircase.’
But Mr Odgers has told investigators that ‘my mother fell down the stairs, and was already very ill,’ according to the same source.
A murder investigation has been opened into the case while Mr Odgers receives psychiatric treatment in France.
Pascal Marconville, the prosecutor in Boulogne-sur-Mer, near Calais said ‘there are suspicions’ because Mrs Odgers was found dead in the passenger seat of the family car early, despite having clearly died many hours before.
‘The son said he only realised his mother was dead when he got out of their car at Calais,’ said Mr Marconville.
The son also said that his mother was ill with cancer and had suffered ‘recurrent falls’ as she tried to walk.
Mr Odgers was intercepted at the port city of Calais, pictured on Friday, with the badly bruised corpse next to him. According to the prosecutor, Mr Odgers didn’t realise his mother was dead until he got out of their car at Calais
The prosecutor said they visited France ‘around twice a year’, for a week each time, but this time headed back within two days.
One of their homes was in the south east Ardeche department, while the other two were in Burgundy, further north.
Overnight on Thursday-Friday, they had driven some 550 miles from the house in Vernon, in the Archeche, where police found blood in the kitchen.
The pair had also stopped off at their home in La Bost, where detectives found the blood on the staircase.
But Mr Marconville said forensic scientists had not discovered any proof to suggest that a crime had been committed.
An autopsy on Mrs Odgers body on Friday ‘revealed nothing except that this was an elderly and very ill woman in a very precarious state of health’, said Mr Marconville.
‘During the journey, the son noticed that his mother was not responding but he thought she was asleep,’ Mr Marconville said.
Éric Jussière, the mayor of Chatin, said Mr Odgers bought the house in 2005, but did not socialise with neighbours.
Mrs Odgers was a widow, whose husband used to practice as a GP in the UK, he said.
One neighbour in Vernon said that he saw the mother and son arrive on Wednesday, and that they had been heard ‘shouting at each other’ before leaving abruptly the next day.
Police were called to Calais at around 5am on Friday after the man reported his mother feeling unwell, but she was clearly dead when they inspected her body.
Pascal Marconville (pictured), the prosecutor in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer, said ‘there are suspicions’ in the case because the mother was found dead in the passenger seat of the car on Friday morning, despite having died many hours before
Searches were carried out at the family’s properties on Friday afternoon, because of ‘suspicious statements by the son,’ said Mr Marconville.
The son was considered to be in fragile mental state, and was accordingly hospitalized in a psychiatric unit, rather than being placed in custody.
The investigation continues, and no theory has been ruled out, said Mr Marconville, who confirmed that a murder enquiry had been launched.
The French authorities have not formally identified the Odgers, but at least three sources who knew them in France have confirmed their names.
Both Mr Odgers and his mother had Twitter accounts, with their photographs clearly displayed.
Mr Odgers described himself as being ‘based on the Isle of Wight’ and being ‘very interested in working from home.’
His late mother wrote that she was retired on the Isle of Wight, with five grandchildren.