Frenchman gets 30 years for Australian woman's 2001 murder

6th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A 36-year-old Frenchman was jailed for 30 years on Friday for the murder 11 years ago of an Australian student, found beaten, strangled and dumped in a car park outside Paris.

The corpse of Jeannette O'Keefe, 28, was found rolled up in a sleeping bag in a parking lot in the Paris suburb of Les Mureaux on January 2, 2001 -- three days after a series of events left her alone and without a bed for the night on New Year's Eve.

Brazilian-born Adriano Araujo Da Silva, who confessed to the crime twice before retracting his testimony, said several times during the trial: "You can convict me but I did not kill her."

The athletic-looking, shaven-headed Araujo Da Silva admitted taking the woman home and having an argument with her before handing her his sleeping bag and sending her on her way.

French investigators found male DNA under the victim's fingernails, but it was eight years before they found a match, when Araujo Da Silva's genetic profile was entered into a database after he was arrested for petty theft.

Prosecutor Soizic Flouriot had called for a 30-year sentence.

"What's striking is the ferocity of Jeanette's murderer: 13 blunt wounds, 13 blows takes time and the cause of death is just as awful, a double strangling," Flouriot said.

Two of the victim's sisters and her brother left the courtroom as soon as the verdict was read out to call relatives in Australia.

Older sister Denise said she would return if Araujo Da Silva appealed.

"We knew that man is evil," Denise told journalists. "We expected for the maximum sentence that exists in France and that's what it is."

During the trial, O'Keefe family lawyer Caty Richard described the victim's final hours.

"On December 31 she had handed back the keys to her flat, but was not due to fly home to Australia until January 2. She was due to meet a French friend who was an hour late," Richard said.

"She called an Australian friend, but he was also an hour late, so she set off on a suburban train to head to her French friend's house, and met this young man, who must have sensed her vulnerability," she said.

Flouriot said the defendant had shown no empathy for the victim and that he had "tied himself up in his own contradictions."

© 2012 AFP

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