A MURDER investigation has been launched in France after an Englishman apparently tried to smuggle the dead body of his elderly mother back to the UK on to a Channel ferry.
The 53-year-old suspect, who has not been named, was intercepted at Calais with the badly bruised corpse next to him.
Pascal Marconville, the prosecutor in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer, said “there are suspicions” because the 86-year-old mother was found dead in the passenger seat of the family car early on Friday morning.
This is despite having clearly died many hours before.
The family were joint owners of three holiday homes in France, and blood was found in two, while neighbours had also heard the pair shouting at each other.
Mr Marconville said: “The son said he only realised his mother was dead when he got out of their car at Calais.”
The man also said that his mother was ill with cancer and had suffered “recurrent falls” as she tried to walk.
The prosecutor said they were from the Isle of Wight, and only visited France for a holiday a couple of times a year, for a week each time.
The son said he only realised his mother was dead when he got out of their car at Calais
Pascal Marconville, local prosecutor
One of their homes was in the south east Ardeche department, while the other two were in Burgundy, further north.
Overnight, 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, a tiny hamlet near Chateau-Chinon, in Burgundy, where detectives found 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 Friday revealed nothing except that this was an elderly and very ill woman in a very precarious state of health.
Mr Marconville said: “During the journey, the son noticed that his mother was not responding but he thought she was asleep.”
Éric Jussière, the mayor of Chatin, said the son bought the house in 2005, but did not socialise with neighbours.
The mother was a widower, 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.
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 hospitalised in a psychiatric unit, rather than being placed in custody.
The investigation continues, and no theory has been ruled out, said Mr Marconville.