France shocked by death of 5yo boy punished by stepfather for bedwetting
The shocking death of a 5-year-old boy who was found near the side of a town canal only in socks and underwear with multiple head fractures has stirred the French media. The boy is said to have been cruelly punished by his stepfather for wetting the bed.
The incident took place in the commune of Aire-sur-la-Lys, located in northern French Pas-de-Calais department at about 2:45am on Monday. The boy, identified as Yanis, was found some 200 meters from the house of his stepfather, 30, and his mother, 22, police said, Le Parisien newspaper reports. La Voix Du Nord newspaper, however, reported that the house belonged to the boys’ stepfather and his mother lived at a different place.
The couple, which had not been known to police before, were unemployed. Married since August 2015, they did not have any other children.
Rescuers from CODIS (Departmental Operational Center of Fire and Rescue) who arrived at the scene of the incident said the boy died of “cardiac arrest.” Police stated that the stepfather alerted them about the incident, saying that the child was found unconscious.
The child’s parents were taken for questioning on suspicion of “voluntary violence causing death without intention” into police custody in near-by Saint-Omer commune, police said. French media cited sources as saying the boy had a broken nose and traces of old injuries.
“This was a sanction-punishment, making the child go out in the middle of the night” because he urinated in bed, Patrick Leleu, the prosecutor of Saint-Omer, said.
The autopsy on Monday revealed that the child died of various skull injuries. Police, however, have not revealed the circumstances of the death.
Police said that it was his stepfather who put the punishment of forcing the child outdoors into practice. He reportedly followed the boy by bike.
The stepfather claimed that Yanis “was suffering from enuresis... and after a new episode of enuresis he punished him by ordering to go outside and to make circles around the house.”
The couple’s neighbors described Yanis’s parents as ordinary people, saying that they have not been aware of any violence towards the child.
“She [Yanis’ mother] came here perhaps 2-3 months ago. He had ‘hello-goodbye’ conversations, we know little about her, she seems to make paintings of children in black and white. His companion was not very talkative either,” one of the neighbors, identified as Jean, said.
“She [the woman] was polite and discreet. The child was generally well dressed,” another neighbor recalled.
La Voix du Nord identified the woman as Émilie I. and cited the remarks of her neighbor who said that she had “never heard [sounds of] fight, quarrel, not even the boy crying.”
In the meantime, relatives of Yanis have created a Facebook group in memory of the child where they also call to raise money for his funeral.
Le Figaro reported that the group is maintained by Guillaume and Mélanie C, the uncle and aunt of the biological father of Yanis.
“Beautiful little heart,”“Little angel”“Rest in peace,” people wrote under photos of the boy, while one person exclaimed: “I don't understand how someone can harm such a handsome kid. My heart hurts so much.”