The death of a young man near Lisieux, six in the car: the story of a tragedy announced

The accident happened at the entrance to Chemin Saint-Hyppolite at the entrance to Saint-Martin-de-la-Lieue (Calvados), near Lisieux. ©The Pays d’Auge

Planned to be “a delirium between friends”, the alcoholic evening ended tragically in Saint-Martin-de-la-Lieue. It is in a particularly heavy atmosphere that took place on Friday, September 30, 2022 in Lisieux (Calvados), the trial of the author behind the car accident that on August 2, 2022 caused an 18-year-old death of his friend.

After leaving the scene immediately after the accident, the passengers in the car, aged 19 to 23, as well as the driver, had to be held liable for failure to render assistance to anyone in danger. In the absence of clear elements of intent, the court acquitted them of this offence, as the defense lawyers had unanimously requested.

Almost game in advance

No driver’s license, six people without seat belts in a 5-seater car, alcohol, weed and speed… the defendant accumulated the offenses that night. Sighing that everything was “almost” pre-arranged, the representative of the State Attorney will say that she does not understand how such facts can “still” arise. Delphine Mienniel will note in her indictment that the 5 defendants were hardly known to the judiciary.

130 km/h on the speedometer at the Lisieux exit

On August 2 at around 2:30 a.m., police on patrol rue Saint-Hippolyte in Lisieux noticed that the Citroën C4 they had just passed suddenly accelerated on sight. Then they turn around to check it out. The car, with several people on board, crossed the speed bump at full speed, came to a stop before heading towards Livarot.

The officers quickly decide to call off their pursuit due to the reckless risks the driver is taking to elude them. One of the passengers will indicate that the speedometer showed 130 km/h at the exit from Lisieux. The race ends tragically, shortly after, at the entrance to Chemin Saint-Hyppolite, in the town of Saint-Martin-de-la-Lieue.

The car on its side, abandoned

It was the light from the car’s headlights, lying on its right side, engine and car radio running, that attracted the police’s attention. In the front passenger seat sits a man in a state of apparent death. The SMUR doctor will note his death at 02:45. All occupants fled before the police arrived.

Awakened at around 04:00 by investigators from the Gendarmerie Research Brigade, the owner of the C4 believed that it had not moved all night and that it was parked in front of his home. He then learns of the death of his son, who has recently returned to live with him after completing his studies in Perpignan.

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Festive atmosphere in the cabin

It was without the father’s knowledge that in the evening around 11pm he took the keys to his car and then gave them to his girlfriend, who he knew did not have permission. As can be seen from the video posted on social networks a quarter of an hour before the tragedy, the mood was particularly festive in the car.

A few minutes later, the vehicle left the branch road to drive at high speed on Chemin Saint-Hyppolite, where the tragedy occurred. The driver will wait until the next day, after spending the following night with his aunt. The other four passengers, who joined Lisieux across fields, will go to the gendarmerie a few hours later.

Eyes reddened, the young major is shaken by tremors that will not leave him throughout the hearing. In front of the judges, along with the other four defendants, he apologizes and asks for forgiveness from the victim’s relatives, who are sitting in the front row of the courtroom.

“There’s One Left Behind”

“I did not want to be arrested without permission. I ran away,” he explains, adding that it was his first mistake. Everything was red! “, continues the judge. After stating that he had fled “like everyone else”, the judge reminds him that there is someone who stayed behind: “next to you, in the car”.

Convicted of failure to provide assistance to a person in danger, the defendants explain that after going their separate ways they believed that everyone was unharmed and had been able to get out of the car before the police arrived. An explanation put forward as probable by their lawyers, inasmuch as it was dark at the time of the facts and that the car was only very lightly damaged.

The laptop needed to be recharged

Arguments brushed aside by the lawyer for the civil parties. Me Blin emphasizes that the main characters communicated together by telephone shortly after the accident, and concludes that they must have known who had got out of the car and “by definition” who had not. The defense attorney will point out to him that the victim left her laptop to charge at her father’s, that she could not be reached.

2 years imprisonment, commitment order

The young man was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 3 of which were accompanied by a conditional suspension for 2 years with duty of care and work. He must pay €121,000 to the members of the deceased’s family for non-economic damage, €4,465 for their financial damage and €1,500 under Article 475-1.

The 5 defendants were acquitted of the misdemeanor of failing to help a person in danger. After a poignant scene in which Lexovian’s family and friends came to support him in the courtroom, he was taken to Caen custody.

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