Mother of French woman who shot dead her abusive husband insists she WANTED to be with him in testimony that could see her daughter jailed for life – as dead man’s brother brands him ‘a monster’ and ‘the devil’
- Valerie Bacot is on trial for murder of stepfather-turned-husband Daniel Polette who subjected her to 25 years of abuse including rape and forced prostitution
- Mother Joelle testified in court today, insisting the pair wanted to be together and that Valerie had not needed to kill him to escape the marriage
- But Daniel’s brother Alain branded his sibling ‘the devil’ – painting him as a violent thug who terrorised his family and left them in fear of their lives
- Valerie faces life in jail if convicted of Daniel’s murder, but says she should be given a reduced sentence because of the abuse she suffered
The mother of a French woman on trial for her husband’s murder has testified that the pair wanted to be together and she did not have to kill him to escape the marriage in testimony that could see her daughter jailed for life, if the jury agree.
Joelle Aubague – the mother of Vaerlie Bacot who is on trial for the murder of Daniel Polette – took to the stand today and launched a defence of her actions, having been painted as a neglectful drunk who turned a blind eye to Daniel’s abuse.
Joelle – who was married to Daniel when he began abusing Valerie – insisted she knew nothing of the attacks until he was jailed, took Valerie to see him behind bars only because she wanted to go, and that it was her daughter’s own decision to run off with him when she later fell pregnant with his child.
Asked whether Valerie could have escaped the relationship without killing Daniel, she said: ‘There were other solutions’.
She was followed on the stand by Alain Polette, Daniel’s younger brother who gave a very different account, telling the court his elder sibling was ‘the devil’ – a vile and abusive character for whom the term ‘monster’ was too kind.
Valerie does not contest killing Daniel with a single gunshot to the back of the head in 2016, but says she did it to escape 25 years of horrifying mental, physical and sexual abuse which should qualify her for a reduced sentence.
The case has sparked debate in France about how the legal system deals with abused women, and more than 600,000 signing a petition calling for all charges against Valerie to be dropped.
Valerie Baco is on trial for the 2016 murder of Daniel Polette in France after what she says was 25 years of abuse suffered at his hands
On March 13, 2016, Bacot shot Polette (pictured) – then aged 61 – in the back of the neck with his gun after, she claims, he threatened to prostitute their 14-year-old daughter
Opening the case on Monday, Valerie recounted abuse she suffered at Polette’s hands – saying he had beaten her unconscious with a hammer, prostituted her out to other truck drivers, and threatened to kill their four children if she refused
The second day of the trial saw Valerie’s three eldest children testify about their family life, saying their mother is ‘not guilty’ and had only killed Polette to ‘protect us’ after police refused to help.
Day three began today with Valerie’s mother Joelle arriving at court where she launched a defence of her own actions and contradicted her daughter’s earlier testimony, according to local site La Journal de Saone-et-Loire.
Previously, Valerie had told the court that Joelle had turned a blind eye when Polette – then her husband – began following her into the toilet aged 12 to sexually abuse her.
Joelle rejected that allegation, saying the abuse had happened behind her back while she was at work.
She claimed to have noticed that Valerie often sat on Daniel’s lap, but assumed the pair were simply ‘close’.
In 1996 Polette was jailed for sexually abusing Valerie after one of his sisters reported the abuse to police, but Joelle continued to visit him in jail.
According to Valerie’s account, she was forced to attend the visits with her mother.
But Joelle rejected that, saying that Valerie had insisted on coming along with her – though admitted she had made a ‘mistake’ by visiting Polette in the first place.
When Polette was released from jail, Joelle invited him back into the family home where he quickly began abusing Valerie again – in court, Joelle was asked why she accepted him back.
‘He needed a base, we gave him a second chance, which maybe wasn’t normal…’ she said.
A short time later, Valerie fell pregnant and the family collapsed – Valerie claims her mother threw her out and she ended up living with Polette because she had nowhere else to turn – another claim Joelle disputed.
Valerie and Daniel were in a ‘romantic relationship’, she insisted, adding that Valerie wrote a letter saying she wanted ‘to live my life [and] stay with my man’ while petitioning a court to be allowed to live with Polette – something Joelle had opposed.
After some legal wrangling, Valerie was granted her request. Joelle said that, from then on, she watched their marriage from a distance and assumed they were happy.
Asked whether she had ever been jealous of her daughter, she responded: ‘Absolutely not, I’m not jealous by nature.’
Next to take the stand was Daniel’s brother Alain, who described his elder sibling as ‘despicable’ – a violent thug with ready access to weapons who fought with his father and kept the whole family in a state of terror.
‘I hid with one of my brothers one day, between the wall and a cupboard, because I thought he was going to kill us,’ he said.
‘I can’t say anything positive about him. I lived in the devil’s house because the devil was in it. What he did to Valérie, he’s not the victim, it’s her.’
That assertion was backed up by Régine and Josiane – two of Daniel’s former lovers who said he was also controlling and abusive towards them.
When asked in turn whether he would have been capable of killing Valerie while they were married, each of them replied: ‘Yes.’
Bacot, now aged 40, says Polette began abusing her aged 12 when he was her stepfather – but later forced her into marriage and had four children with her
Valerie had previously testified that she had no choice but to kill Polette to escape their marriage, fearing that he would kill her or her children otherwise.
‘I wanted to save me, and my children,’ Bacot said.
In a book published ahead of the trial, Bacot says she was abused from a young age – first by her older brother when she was aged five and then by Polette, who was initially her mother’s partner.
Speaking to Le Parisien ahead of the trial, Bacot said the abuse began ‘very quickly’ after mother Joelle brought truck-driver Polette home when she was aged 12.
He initially played the doting stepfather but then began sexually abusing her – abuse which lasted for two years before she alerted police and Polette was arrested.
When Bacot was aged 14 he was jailed for four years for sexual abuse, but Bacot said her mother never cut off contact and would even take her to visit him in jail.
After two and a half years, Polette was released and immediately returned to the family home where the abuse resumed.
Bacot said she often thought about running away, but had nowhere to go – her grandparents would simply return her home, she believed, and her biological father wanted nothing to do with her. So she stayed.
Then, at the age of 17, Bacot fell pregnant with Polette’s child and the family quickly fell apart.
Bacot says her mother kicked her out of the house, forcing her to go and live with Polette because she did not know where else to go.
She said Polette began physically and mentally abusing her shortly after their first child – a boy – was born.
‘The first time it was because he thought I hadn’t put the baby’s toys away properly,’ she said. ‘But very quickly it became commonplace.
‘If the coffee took too long to arrive, if it was too hot or too cold, he would get angry.
‘Everything became a pretext for blows. You live with the idea that you deserve it because you are not doing things right.’
She said Polette controlled every aspect of her behaviour, forbidding her to go out except to shop or take the children to school, and would check her receipts when she got home to make sure she wasn’t lying.
When he was unable to keep an eye on her, he would get others in the village where they lived to do it for him, she claims.
He chose her hairstyle, her clothes, and the names for their children – which eventually totalled four.
Bacot says she wanted to take contraceptive pills or get abortions so she would stop falling pregnant, but was forbidden from going to the doctor.
The pair married in 2008, but that did little to end the abuse, Bacot says.
Polette began using weapons in his assaults – at one point knocking her out with a hammer over the Christmas holidays, and routinely threatened her with a gun.
He also began prostituting her out to other truck drivers.
Operating out of the back of a Peugeot people-carrier under the name of Adeline, Bacot says Polette watched the acts and dictated her movements via an earpiece.
But, so as to leave clients in no doubt about who she ‘belonged’ to, he had his initials tattooed near her genitals.
‘He wanted to mark his territory, show others that I belonged to him,’ she added.
Bacot says her children contacted police twice on her behalf but were brushed off, with officers telling them that their mother needed to come to the station herself.
Things came to a head in 2016 as Polette routinely questioned Bacot’s 14-year-old daughter about her sexuality – leading her to fear that he would start prostituting the teenager out as well.
Then, on March 13, came a visit from a violent client. Bacot said she refused to carry out a certain sex act for him, so he forced her into it – leaving her bleeding.
Afterwards, she claims Polette criticised her, telling her the man would refuse to come back and that she would have to make up for it.
Journalists wait outside the courtroom in Chalon-sur-Saone, France, where Bacot is standing trial for Polette’s murder
Having tried to drug Polette using sleeping pills crushed into his coffee, Bacot then went for a revolver that she knew her husband kept between the seats in the back of the car.
While he was sitting in the front seat, she drew the handgun and fired it once through the back of his neck, killing him instantly.
Bacot then buried the body in a forest with the help of her two eldest sons and her daughter’s boyfriend, who she says offered to help so police wouldn’t take her away.
But in 2017, cops were alerted to the killing after the boyfriend confessed to his own mother – prompting her to call gendarmes.
They arrested Bacot who subsequently confessed to the killing, but was released on bail one year later pending trial.
Bacot’s sons and the daughter’s boyfriend were subsequently jailed for six months each for concealment of a corpse for the part they played in the cover-up.
Bacot now faces life in jail for murder. Her lawyers want the sentence reduced to 10 years in jail due to the abuse she suffered.
She made no comment as she arrived at the courthouse Monday, appearing intimidated by the crowd of reporters awaiting her.
Her lawyers said ahead of the trial that ‘the extreme violence that she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next’ pushed her to kill Polette.
The same lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini, had already defended Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her abusive husband but won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol for the fight against violence directed at women.
‘These women who are victims of violence have no protection. The judiciary is still too slow, not reactive enough and too lenient towards the perpetrators who can continue to exercise their violent power,’ Bonaggiunta told AFP.
‘This is precisely what can push a desperate woman to kill in order to survive,’ she said.
Bacot was ‘certain that she needed to commit this act to protect her children’, a court evaluation found.
More than 500,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Bacot, who risks life in prison for murder, be cleared of the charge.
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