Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2024

British pensioner kicked to death while staying at her ‘dream home’ in France | World | News

A British pensioner “living her dream” in a village in France was found dead after she was brutally attacked by a neighbour after she asked to borrow some sticky tape.

A court in France heard Susan Higginbotham, 67, was found dead in September 2021 at her house in Esclottes, which is located around 35 miles to the east of Bordeaux.

The Mirror reports the “pleasant” and “very open” retiree, from Mansfield, Notts, had reportedly moved to the tiny village of just 150 people for a quiet life, following a successful career in finance.

Hicham Bahloul confessed to strangling Ms Higginbotham with a cord and beating her to death after breaking into her home on the day of the attack, a court heard.

The 42-year-old is said to have become enraged after Ms Higginbotham asked about borrowing adhesive tape several times in one day.

The British pensioner was found lifeless inside her home, and Bahloul was arrested a day later after initial clues from the scene suggested foul play.

An investigating officer told the court that the suspect took officers to the scene of the crime and handed over clothes he wore on the day of the murder which were “covered in blood”.

There were said to be no reports of conflicts between Bahloul and the pensioner prior to the killing, and the pair had been on polite speaking terms.

Bahloul, who was living with his parents at the time he carried out the attack, reportedly suffers from several mental disorders including schizophrenia. He had spent around half of his life in psychiatric care.

According to French media, he told the court of the brutal murder: “The story of the tape? It was a pretext to go to her house. I returned to her house with my cord and I strangled her. We fell, the rope fell. It broke. I took my fists and punched her in the face and kicked her in the chest to make sure she was dead.”

Bahloul’s defence lawyer, Mr Verdier, asked that he be given the maximum sentence, citing a report from an expert psychologist to say it was “necessary” for him to remain in prison.

Ms Higginbotham was described by a friend who travelled to France for the court case as a “very pleasant person” who “took care of people” and was “very open”.

They added: “She had had a successful career, as a financial director, then as a company representative; she had worked very hard.”

“She really wanted to be happy in France when she moved in 2016, and I think she was. She was living her dream. She was funny. I miss her a lot.”

On Wednesday, the court in Agen, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, sentenced Bahloul to life in prison.

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