“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 to the criminal court in Arras in the Pas-de-Calais on Tuesday. With a receding hairline and sometimes out of breath, Gérard D. tries to explain his gesture He showed up to kill the neighbors’ 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 oppressive law has come into force and society has changed.
“This story is completely 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. But today he is going through a real lynching,” he condemns.
The complainants, a couple in their 50s, have a different reading of the facts. On the contrary, they speak of “permanent provocations” on the part of this former farmer. When they arrived in the city more than 30 years ago, neighborhood relations were “pretty good”, explains Etienne W.. Before they gradually deteriorated.
Four years ago, the couple bought a half-Burmese, half-Siamese white cat named Nelson. An extremely loving animal, according to its owner. “A few days before the tragedy, I had alerted my neighbor that my cat sometimes ran away and came to his field. I told him to be careful,” he explains 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 that attacked my chicken coop,” he says. However, his testimony to the gendarmes prompts a 15-minute wait before he shoots. “For a hunter like him, it was impossible for him to be confused”, evokes Me Patrice Grillon, lawyer for the Stéphane Lamart association, which filed a civil action.
Even if she “refuses to make this file a symbolic affair”, the prosecutor, Séverine Merle, maintains her position regarding the atrocity. According to the investigation, the animal did not die on the spot. The judge asks for a three-month suspended sentence, the revocation of hunting licenses and a ban on the possession of weapons for three years. Gérard D. had no less than five in his home.
The defendant’s lawyer, for his part, pleaded for release, citing “a deplorable and serious act” but “shot down with a single bullet, the animal did not suffer, so we cannot prove the cruelty,” he said. Court decision, 13 December.