A French woman, 39 year old Fabienne Kabou who left her 15 month old daughter to drown on a beach said Monday that she had no other explanation but “witchcraft”. Kabou went on trial for the murder of 15-month-old daughter, Adelaide, which shocked the country in November 2013.
The French woman of Senegalese origin described her well-off childhood in Dakar before she moved to Paris to study philosophy and architecture and fell in love with a sculptor 30 years her senior, Michel Lafon who did not recognize or show any interest in the child.
She told the court in the northeastern town of Saint-Omer:
“In 2011 I fell pregnant with Adelaide, she was born in August and I ended up killing her, 15 months after her birth,”
In 2013, Kabou travelled with her 15 month old daughter from their home in Paris to the northern resort town of Berck-sur-Mer where she made enquiries about the local tides before heading to the beach.
She said goodbye to her sleeping daughter and placed her near the water on a cold night. The baby’s lifeless body was discovered early the next morning by prawn fishermen.
10 days after the baby was discovered, police were able to track down Kabou, through surveillance video, to her renovated art studio home where she lived with Adelaide’s father. She admitted to the crime when she was confronted by the Police, she never lied about it.
Kabou said she had spent some 40,000 euros ($45,000) consulting various “witchdoctors and healers” before she killed her daughter.
She told the court:
“Witchcraft. That is my default explanation because I have no other.”
“Nothing makes sense in this story. What interest could I have in tormenting myself, lying, killing my daughter? I spoke of sorcery and I am not joking. Even a stupid person would not do what I did.”
Kabou’s lawyer Fabienne Roy-Nansion asked her to explain why she thought evil forces were behind her daughter’s death.
“For many years I struggled to wake up in the morning, my feet were paralysed. I had hallucinations, like the walls which didn’t stop trembling,”
Her lawyer, Roy-Nansion describes Kabou as from a well-to-do Catholic background and of “remarkable intelligence”.
A court-appointed psychiatrist found that her “psychological status is largely influenced by cultural references and an individual history linked to Senegalese witchcraft that radically altered her view of the world”.
However a lawyer for a children’s group that is a civil party to the case, Jean-Christophe Boyer, accused Kabou of using witchcraft as a defence strategy.
“You are faced with a very intelligent woman who knows she must not say she is mad, but give enough to the experts to appear mad, so you have sorcery and it is part of her culture,” he said.
Another court psychiatrist, Paul Bensussan, said her act was possibly triggered by a deep depression related to the birth of her child.
Her lawyer said the child was born in the couple’s home and was never registered. No one close to the couple, not even Kabou’s mother, knew of her existence. The baby’s father Lafon was not in any way interested in the child or her well being which deeply bothered Kabou and made her feel alone.
A DNA test was carried out after Kabou’s arrest to prove his paternity.
“The two years before the murder of my daughter were the worst of my life. The two years in prison have been calmer and more peaceful,” she said in court.
Kabou, who is charged with premeditated murder and faces life in prison.