"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 7, 2016

France: Convicted child killer Patrick Henry to be released on parole after 38 years behind bars

Patrick Henry in August 2002
Patrick Henry in August 2002
The Patrick Henry affair was a French judicial affair concerning Patrick Henry, convicted for the kidnap and murder of 7-year-old Philippe Bertrand in early 1976. The emotionally charged trial began on January 17, 1977.

Henry's case entered legal history after the performance of his defence lawyer, Robert Badinter, heralded the abolition of the death sentence in France, the last western European country to practise it.

Henry's case had driven the French Nation into a lynch-mob fury. In 1976 he was a blond, boyish 22-year-old when he kidnapped seven-year-old Philippe Bertrand from outside the village school of Pont-Sainte-Marie.

Almost immediately after the kidnap he garrotted the boy. But it was his subsequent behaviour that, when it came to light, drove the nation to bay for his blood. After the killing, Henry sent ransom demands to Philippe's parents. Although the boy was already dead he promised his safe return for a million francs.

Meanwhile, he enthusiastically participated in the huge public search for his victim. He even appeared on a television show. "Anyone who kidnaps a child deserves death," he said. After stowing the boy's body under a mattress in the cheap digs he had rented in Troyes, Henry went on holiday with two friends.

It was to Mr Badinter that Henry owed his second chance. No one predicted after his capture that the nine jurors and three judges would spare him the blade. Outside the courtroom in the eastern town of Troyes a mob pressed against police barriers screaming for Henry to be put to death.

Inside, as the jurors filed in to deliver their verdict, the exhausted Badinter, prepared for the worst. He knew the price of failure. Four years earlier, he had sat in the grim courtyard of La Santé prison in Paris and watched two of his clients beheaded.

Mr Badinter also knew that if Henry was sentenced to death there would be no clemency. The mayor of Troyes called for Mr Badinter's latest client to be handed an "exemplary punishment". The interior minister had also risen to the public hysteria. "I hope justice is swift and brutal," said Michel Poniatowski.

In a brilliant and emotional closing address that put the guillotine, not Henry, in the dock Badinter said: "There will be no presidential grace." As two of the three women jurors wept, he described "the sound of the blade as it cuts a living man in two".

By a majority decision the judges and jury ruled that there were mitigating circumstances, sparing Henry execution. Henry was sentenced to life in prison and the death penalty instead was dealt a mortal blow.

Patrick Henry shortly before his arrest for killing 8-year-old Philippe Bertrand in Troyes in early 1976.
Patrick Henry shortly before his arrest for killing 7-year-old
Philippe Bertrand in Troyes in early 1976.
Only two men were subsequently guillotined and it was four years later, Sept 17, 1981, that Mr Badinter, then justice minister, obtained its official abolition in the National Assembly.

Henry was first released on parole in May 2001 after spending 25 years in prison.

He was subsequently arrested in June 2002 for shoplifting and fined €2,000.

He was rearrested near Valencia, Spain in October 2002 for carrying 10kg of illegal drugs, which raised questions about the early release of long-term prisoners.

France was then divided over the case of Patrick Henry, its most infamous child-murderer and the man indirectly responsible for the end of the guillotine, who was freed on parole but was soon after rearrested in Spain carrying 10kg of marijuana.

The justice minister stressed at the time that Henry's "personal failure to seize his second chance" must not be allowed to affect future decisions made under France's relaxed rules on releasing long-term prisoners conditional on their good behaviour.

But magistrates feared the massive publicity generated by the case would inevitably lead to a new hardline policy on parole, and wanted potential candidates for an early release better prepared for their return to society.

The many who protested against Henry's release in May 2001, of course, say his conduct shows he should never have been allowed out in the first place.

Patrick Henry will be released on parole in the coming days or hours.

The DA's office [le Parquet]  is mulling an appeal of the decision.

Sources: The Telegraph, The Guardian, Le Monde, Wikipedia, DPN, January 7, 2015

Patrick Henry's Parole Application Turned Down after Prosecutor Appealed

Patrick Henry (center) and his lawyer (left) in August 2002
Patrick Henry (center) and his lawyer (left) in August 2002 
Patrick Henry was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Philippe Bertrand in the small city of Troyes, France.

Henry abducted the little boy as he was leaving school and then soon strangled him, but did not advertise this fact and continued to expect the ransom payment.

The kidnapping had provoked considerable emotion in France, where television allowed the public to follow the parents' anguish and their repeated calls to the kidnappers during the 18-day police enquiry.

Patrick Henry was detained by the police for 47 hours (the legal limit was 48 hours before formally putting Henry under criminal investigation).

After being released, he made multiple media appearances, in which he claimed he had nothing to do with the kidnapping and he wished the kidnappers would be given the death penalty.

He was arrested again on 17 February 1976 and the child's dead body was discovered hidden under the bed of a room that he rented.

Convicted as a cold-blooded and cynical child killer, the 22-year-old young man narrowly escaped the guillotine, primarily thanks to the brilliant performance of his defense lawyer Robert Badinter, which heralded the abolition of capital punishment in France in 1981.

Patrick Henry later trained in prison to be a computer engineer and was by many considered a good example of a prisoner that could redeem himself from his heinous crimes and look for an honest place in society.

He was paroled in 2001 after many parole applications had been turned down.

He however soon fell back again into crime. In August 2002, he was sentenced for some petty theft from a supermarket. On October 2002, he was arrested in Spain with ten kilograms of hashish.

His parole was then revoked.

His latest parole application was granted by a judge on Thursday, January 7, 2016 only to be suspended a few hours later after the prosecution appealed the decision. "We opposed Mr. Henry's application from the very start, as the whole parole project lacks a convincing framework," said Melun's prosecutor Beatrice Angelelli.

Henry will therefore remain in prison until further notice. The appeals court has two months to decide on the case.

Henry's lawyer, Ms. Carine Delaby-Faure, regretted the prosecution's move and said that her client had paid his debt to society. "At 62, he is eager to end his life as a free man, having spent his life behind bars," she added.

Source: Libération, Le Monde, Murderpedia, DPN, January 9, 2015

Patrick Henry obtient sa libération conditionnelle

Condamné à la réclusion à perpétuité en 1977 pour le meurtre d’un enfant de 7 ans, Patrick Henry a obtenu, jeudi 7 janvier, sa libération conditionnelle. « Le bénéfice de la libération conditionnelle est accordé, mais sous réserve de l’exécution d’une période de probation » prévue jusqu’au 4 août 2017, a déclaré Béatrice Angelelli, procureur de la République de Melun. Elle a indiqué qu’elle entendait prendre une décision sur un éventuel appel « dans les prochaines heures ».

La justice devait examiner sa nouvelle demande de liberté conditionnelle, après le rejet en juillet 2014 d’un recours en grâce présidentielle. Cette décision fait suite à une audience tenue le 8 décembre devant le tribunal d’application des peines, au centre de détention de Melun, où il est incarcéré. Le parquet avait requis le rejet de cette demande de libération, formulée après le rejet du recours en grâce présidentielle.

« Il a payé sa dette auprès de la société. A 62 ans, il a hâte de finir sa vie en homme libre, après avoir passé toute sa vie derrière les barreaux », a déclaré l’avocate lilloise du détenu, Me Carine Delaby-Faure.

« Il a payé cher sa petite rechute »

En 1977, Patrick Henry avait échappé de justesse à la peine de mort grâce notamment à la plaidoirie de son avocat, Robert Badinter. Il avait obtenu sa mise en liberté conditionnelle en mai 2001 après vingt-cinq ans de prison.

Sorti sous le feu des médias, l’homme était resté discret un an avant de multiplier les faux pas avec, en juin 2002, un vol à l’étalage pour lequel il a été condamné à une amende de 2 000 euros, puis dans la nuit du 5 au 6 octobre 2002 son interpellation près de Valence, en Espagne, en possession de 10 kg de cannabis.

Sa liberté conditionnelle avait ensuite été révoquée. En 2003, il avait été condamné par le tribunal correctionnel de Caen à quatre ans d’emprisonnement et 20 000 euros d’amende, décision confirmée par la cour d’appel de cette ville. Selon son avocate, « il a payé cher sa petite rechute (…) il est temps qu’il sorte ».

Depuis 2002, cinq demandes de libération conditionnelle de son client ont été acceptées dans un premier temps par le tribunal d’application des peines, puis rejetées après appel du parquet.

Source : Le Monde, 7 janvier 2016

La liberté conditionnelle de Patrick Henry est suspendue

Après 35 ans en prison, le meurtrier de Philippe Bertrand a obtenu ce jeudi une nouvelle libération conditionnelle, suspendue pour quelques mois encore à un appel du parquet de Melun. Il était déjà sorti de prison en 2001, avant d'y retourner en 2003.

Condamné en 1977 à la réclusion à perpétuité pour le meurtre d’un enfant de sept ans, Patrick Henry a obtenu ce jeudi une libération conditionnelle, pour l’instant suspendue à la décision du parquet de Melun de faire appel. «Depuis le départ de cette procédure, nous étions opposés à cette demande», a déclaré la procureure de la République de Melun, Béatrice Angelelli, pour qui «le projet d’accompagnement n’est pas assez encadrant». L’appel est suspensif et «la cour d’appel a deux mois pour statuer».

La libération conditionnelle de Patrick Henry prévoyait que le détenu de 62 ans, dont près de 40 années en prison, pourrait entamer dès janvier, avec une première permission de sortie, le parcours de probation qui doit le mener à la liberté conditionnelle en août 2017. Pour Patrick Henry, ce pourrait être une nouvelle chance de se réinsérer, après une première fois avortée en 2002.

Source : Libération, 7 janvier 2016

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