French couple jailed over death of 3-year-old after boy’s mother accidentally revealed fatal beating in call to police

Muri Assunção, New York Daily News
·2 min read

A French man who beat a toddler to death in late 2016 was sentenced Friday to 20 years behind bars.

In a case that shook people all around France 28-year-old Lo 1/4 u00efc Vantal was convicted of killing 3-year-old Tony using “deliberate violence leading to death.”

The boy’s mother, Caroline Létoile, was sentenced to four years for “failing to report physical abuse.”

According to French public radio network France Info, Létoile called police on Nov. 26, 2016 to report that the boy was unconscious.

However, while on hold with emergency services, the then-19-year-old mother was heard telling her partner that, “I said he fell down the stairs,” without realizing that she was being recorded.

She was also heard asking her partner, “The stairs will do, right? The stairs to the apartment… And I’m hiding all the stuff from the argument.”

When police arrived at the scene they found the child’s body covered in bruises. He was pronounced dead later that night at a hospital.

During the week-long trial that took place at a criminal court in the city of Reims, in northeast France, the prosecution argued that the boy died due to “gratuitous wickedness” associated with “egocentricity” of the accused, who admitted to police that he had repeatedly hit the boy since meeting Létoile three months earlier.

When Létoile was asked why she had not spoken to police about the beating, she said that she was “afraid,” adding that she “did want to call for help but couldn’t.”

“He knew how to find the words, he told me he was going to change,” she said, according to France Info

“I never wanted to protect him. I did not do that out of love, especially for him. I have to be able to explain this fear. I have a lot of trouble finding the words. "

Béatrice Digeon, a renowned pediatrician who was called to testify, said that she couldn’t describe each lesion, “because there were so many.”

“He must have been in a great state of suffering,” she added.