French couple jailed after boy’s fatal beating revealed accidentally in call

4 weeks ago
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A woman holds a placard bearing a portrait of Tony, a child who died on November 26, 2016 at the age of three

AFP

A French couple have been jailed over the death of the woman’s toddler – from a beating she inadvertently revealed in a call to emergency services.

Loïc Vantal, 28, got a 20-year sentence for dealing the blows that killed three-year-old Tony in November 2016.

The mother, Caroline Létoile, aged 19 at the time, called emergency services to report that the boy was unconscious.

While on hold, and unaware the call was being recorded, she told her partner: “I said he fell down the stairs.”

Létoile was also heard saying: “The stair will do, right? The stairs to the apartment… And I’m hiding all the stuff from the argument.”

When medics arrived at Létoile’s flat in the eastern city of Reims, they found the child’s lifeless body covered in bruises.

He was pronounced dead later that night at the hospital.

When police confronted Vantal, he admitted hitting the child repeatedly since he had met Létoile three months earlier.

On Friday, after a week-long trial in Reims, he was convicted of using “deliberate violence leading to death”.

During the trial the judge asked Létoile why she had not spoken to police about Vantal beating her son. “I was afraid,” she said. “I did want to call for help but couldn’t.”

She received a three-year jail sentence for “failing to report physical abuse”.

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