Elderly Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Killing Wife and Caregiver in Reunion

88-year-old French retiree sentenced to 20 years for murdering Alzheimer-stricken wife and caretaker, sparking national debate on domestic violence in France's overseas territories.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Elderly Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Killing Wife and Caregiver in Reunion

Elderly Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Killing Wife and Caregiver in Reunion

An 88-year-old retired teacher from the French island of Reunion has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the double murder of his 78-year-old wife, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and her in-house caretaker. The man, whose identity has not been released, claimed to have acted out of compassion due to his wife's illness, but prosecutors presented a different portrayal during the trial.

The tragic incident occurred in March 2021 in the town of Saint-Joseph, located in the south of Reunion. According to court documents, the elderly man struck his wife several times with a sledgehammer before turning his attention to the couple's domestic helper, who had just arrived on the scene. The man later claimed to have had a "blackout" and did not remember attacking the second victim.

During the trial, prosecutors described the defendant as a "violent" and "authoritarian" individual. They argued that his actions were not motivated by compassion, but rather by a desire to control and dominate his wife, even in her vulnerable state. The public prosecutor had initially demanded a 25-year prison sentence for the elderly husband.

Why this matters: This case highlights the broader issue of domestic violence in France, particularly in its overseas territories. Reunion ranks fourth in the country in terms of the number of reported cases of domestic violence, with 52 women being victims of femicide on the island between 2006 and 2024. The high-profile nature of this case has sparked a national conversation about the need for better support and protection for victims of domestic abuse.

The defense team argued that the defendant's advanced age and the stress of caring for his ailing wife should be taken into account when determining his sentence. However, the court eventually sided with the prosecution, handing down a 20-year prison term for the double murder.

This case echoes a similar incident that occurred in mainland France, where a man was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for burning his partner alive after she tried to leave him. The man also claimed to have had a "blackout" during the attack, but the court rejected this defense.

Key Takeaways

  • 88-year-old French man sentenced to 20 years for killing wife, caretaker
  • Claimed "compassion" due to wife's Alzheimer's, but prosecutors argued violence
  • Reunion ranks 4th in France for domestic violence, 52 femicide cases 2006-2024
  • Defense argued age, stress should be considered, but court sided with prosecution
  • Case highlights need for better support, accountability for domestic violence