A man who kidnapped and raped a woman before she was killed in northern France almost two decades ago tried to poison himself in court moments after being convicted.
Willy Bardon, 45, was on trial over the 2002 death of Elodie Kulik when he ingested the a tablet at the courthouse in Amiens late on Friday.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for rape and for kidnapping and holding a person against their will followed by death, but was acquitted of murder.
According to Amiens prosecutor Alexandre de Bosschere, analysis showed Bardon had swallowed a pill just seconds after the verdict was announced, according to NDTV.
It came at the end of a high-profile trial into one of France’s bigger cold cases, in which DNA evidence and witness testimony had led police to Bardon.
Mr de Bosschere said: “The condition of Willy Bardon was stabilised by the doctors during the night.
“We do not know how he managed to hide that.”
French journalists inside the courtroom described seeing Bardon swallow an unidentified pill in the defendant’s box.
The victim's father, Jacky Kulik, broke down in tears as the verdict was announced, while embracing relatives also 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 (his 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.
Bardon continues to insist he is innocent, telling the court: "I was not there. I am innocent... I swear to you."
One of his lawyers, Stephane Daquo, told Europe-1 radio his client had made the apparent suicide attempt out of desperation.
He said: “It is clear that Mr Bardon tried to kill himself.
“He had said repeatedly that he could not bear going back to prison.”
The defendant was placed under police guard at a hospital and an investigation was opened into how he obtained the pill.
Elodie Kilik was kidnapped, raped, strangled and her corpse then burned in 2002 in Tertry.
The 24-year-old bank worker managed to call emergency services moments before she died and the harrowing recording was a key piece of evidence in the trial as six witnesses said they recognised Bardon’s voice on the tape.
Police also used a new DNA searching technique in 2011 which led them to conclude Grégory Wiart, who died in a car accident in 2003, was one of the killers.
Elodie’s father Jacky broke down in tears and hugged family members in court after the verdict was announced.
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.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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