“For me, he was a predator. I am at home, I defend my property. “It is a small 71-year-old man, straight in his boots, who presents himself, Tuesday, before the criminal court of Arras, in Pas-de-Calais. With a receding hairline and sometimes shortness of breath, Gérard D. tries to explain his gesture. He was appearing for having killed the neighbours’ cat with a rifle shot, on a Sunday afternoon, in March, in Penin, a small village of 400 inhabitants.
This kind of business did not hit the headlines in rural areas a few decades ago. But today, a new, more repressive law has come into force and society has changed.
“This story is totally beyond him”
For the defendant’s lawyer, Me Mathieu Strubbe, “this story is completely beyond him”. “He has always had a history with animals through his work as a farmer and he has no history of abuse. However, today, he is undergoing a real lynching, ”he denounces.
The complainants, a couple in their fifties, have a different reading of the facts. They speak, on the contrary, of “permanent provocations” on the part of this former farmer. When they arrived in the town, more than 30 years ago, neighborhood relations were “rather good”, explains Etienne W.. Before gradually deteriorating.
Four years ago, the couple bought a half-Burmese, half-Siamese white cat, named Nelson. An extremely affectionate animal, according to its owner. “A few days before the tragedy, I had alerted my neighbor to the fact that my cat sometimes ran away and came to his field. I told him to be careful, ”he explains to 20 minutes. In vain.
No sympathy, no regrets
Worse, at the helm, Gérard D. shows no compassion for the owners. No regrets. “I thought it was a ferret or a badger attacking my chicken coop,” he says. His testimony before the gendarmes, however, evokes a wait of 15 minutes before shooting. “For a hunter like him, it was impossible for him to be confused”, evokes Me Patrice Grillon, lawyer for the Stéphane Lamart association who filed a civil action.
Even if she “refuses to make this file a symbolic affair”, the prosecutor, Séverine Merle, maintains her position concerning the act of cruelty. According to the investigation, the animal did not die on the spot. The magistrate is asking for a three-month suspended prison sentence, the withdrawal of the hunting license and the ban on possessing weapons for three years. Gérard D. had no less than five at his home.
The defendant’s lawyer, for his part, pleaded for release, evoking “a regrettable and serious act”, but “shot down with a single bullet, the animal did not suffer, so we cannot demonstrate the act of cruelty,” he said. Court decision, December 13.