A COURT was told to acquit Valerie Bacot, 40, of murder after it emerged the man she killed and hid in a forest had raped her since she was 12.
French prosecutor Eric Jallet told jurists the scarred mother-of-four "should not return to prison" for killing her husband, Daniel Polette.
Bacot admitted to shooting Polette in the neck with a weapon hidden in their car then dumping his body in a forest with the help of her children.
Unvestigators established that Polette threatened to kill her if she refused prostituting herself, pointing a gun at her many times.
When Polette started questioning their 14-year old daughter Karline about her budding sexuality, Bacot said she decided that "this has to stop".
On March 2016, Polette ordered his wife to undergo yet another sexual humiliation by a client.
But, she used a pistol that he kept in the car to kill him with a single bullet to the back of the neck while he was in the driver's seat.
Bacot told the court she wanted to ensure her daughter wouldn't suffer the same fate that she had. "I wanted to save her," the mum added.
In dramatic scenes on Friday morning, state prosecutors urged the court to give Bacot a four-year suspended sentence.
"You must take into account the personality of the accused, Valérie Bacot – a victim all her life," the lawyer said.
"So any sentence you decide should be reduced, scaled down."
Bacot's case has fuelled a nationwide debate in France about conjugal violence, and whether victims should be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
Polette, a lorry driver, lived with Bacot's mother when he began raping her at the age of 12, the court heart.
He then spent three years in prison for sexual abuse charges before moving back in with Bacot and and her mother, Joëlle.
At 17, she fell pregnant with Polette’s child and was forced to live with her rapist after being booted out of the house by her mum.
She married Polette in 2008 and ended up having three more children with him.
Soon after, the victim arranged for Bacot to start sleeping with other men for money.
He would issue instructions to her via an earpiece he forced her to wear to make sure she complied with the demands of clients whom he charged between £17 and £43.
"Premeditated murder is by no means self-defense. It is a willingness to kill, premeditated, in a context of domestic violence. This court must apply the law," Jallet said.
"But there are different things to take into account. The fact that she is beaten for so long, that she wanted to survive."
Court was adjourned when Bacot suddenly fell ill.
Close to a million people have now signed a petition demanding the charges against her be dropped.
Polette, who was 61 at the time of his death on March 13 2016, died from a single bullet wound to the neck.
Bacot has admitted killing Polette, but in self-defence as he forced her to prostitute herself in the Peugeot People Carrier, close to their home in Saône-et-Loire.
The mother-of-four shot Polette "in the heat of the moment" after being abused by a client while prostituting.
The case also became a huge talking point when Bacot started a book about her ordeal in October 2018 – while she was on bail and awaiting trial.
In it, she described the violence and humiliation she suffered during her 25 years with Polette.
The book, Everyone Knew (Tout le monde savait,) was published last month, and immediately became a bestseller.
Promotion included a television interview of Bacot watched by some 4.5 million people.
She was compared to Jacqueline Sauvage, who was sentenced to ten years in 2012 for shooting dead her abusive husband, who she claimed had driven their son to suicide.
François Hollande, then the President of France, later gave Sauvage a full pardon.
Bacot is being defended by the same two lawyers who represented Sauvage, and they are using the case to highlight failings in social services.
Janine Bonaggiunta, one of the barristers, said: "The justice system remains too slow, not reactive enough and is not tough enough against conjugal violence .It is this that can lead a desperate woman to kill in order to survive."
A verdict is expected to be handed down on Friday evening.
HOW YOU CAN GET HELP:
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, where you call 999 and press ‘55’ if you can’t safely speak.
- Always keep some money or a bank card on you, including change in case you need a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to move towards an exit if you are inside the house and get your phone in case you need to call for help.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other potential weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom.
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available every day from 10am-6pm or email [email protected]
SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
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