Europe

France's Elodie Kulik trial: Willy Bardon jailed for 30 years

Jacky Kulik, the father of Elodie Kulik who was raped and murdered in 2002, poses with a portrait of his daughter on November 21, 2019 at the courthouse of Amiens Image copyright AFP
Image caption Elodie Kulik's father Jacky had fought to bring her killers to justice

A high-profile trial in France concerning the abduction, rape and killing of a 24-year-old bank manager in 2002 has ended in a conviction and 30-year jail term for the defendant.

Willy Bardon was found guilty of rape and abduction resulting in death but acquitted of murdering Elodie Kulik.

Despite a huge inquiry at the time, the trail had gone cold.

But Elodie's father continued the search and advances in DNA techniques had led to the trial of Bardon.

What happened at Friday's verdict?

A jury convicted Bardon, 45, at the Court of Assizes of the Somme.

Elodie's father, Jacky, broke down in tears, hugging family members in court.

He said: "Now justice has been done for Elodie. Tomorrow, I will be able to go to her grave and that of Rose-Marie (Mr Kulik's wife) and tell them that I did my job." Mr Kulik's wife died after a suicide attempt and he also lost two children in a car accident.

But Bardon continued to profess his innocence, speaking into his microphone: "I was not there. I am innocent... I swear to you."

He was evacuated from the courtroom following the verdict after he apparently swallowed something. He is being treated in hospital. He had reportedly threatened to kill himself if found guilty, BFM TV reports.

What's the background to the case?

Elodie Kulik was heading home from a restaurant in January 2002 when she was abducted, raped and then murdered.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Willy Bardon is seen here left, arriving for an earlier court hearing

The bank manager worked in the northern town of Péronne. Her car was targeted in an ambush and as she tried to call emergency services she was dragged from her vehicle.

Her partly charred body was discovered by a farmer on a disused airfield at Tertry on 12 January 2002.

Traces of semen found in a condom, four incomplete DNA sets and a fingerprint were taken from the scene but they could not be effectively used as evidence until 10 years later, partly due to the lack of a broad DNA database.

A new technique - familial DNA searching - was applied in 2011.

It led police to conclude Grégory Wiart, a heating engineer who died in a car accident in 2003, was one of the killers.

How was Bardon implicated?

Shortly after the Wiart discovery, police detained seven members of the same family, including Willy Bardon. He originally came from the same village.

Bardon was charged after his voice was linked to the 26-second phone call made by Elodie to the emergency services. Male voices had been audible in the background and police say when they played the tape to Wiart's relatives, several of them recognised his voice.

The defendant had denied the voice was his and his lawyers said there was none of his DNA at the crime scene.

After the verdict a defence lawyer said the conviction "does not make sense".

Read and watch more on DNA and rape:

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Media caption'I'm a walking crime scene'

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