An American woman and her son have been jailed for 16 and 12 years respectively for the attempted murder of the son’s French father.
June Hopkins, aged 60, and her son, Brendan Walsh, aged 30, were judged in Paris on May 13.
The criminal cour d’assises also definitively banned Ms Hopkins from France and its territories, and banned Mr Walsh from entering the Paris area for 15 years.
The court recognised the son’s “impairment”, and the prosecution said that he was "under the control" of his mother.
The events date back to 2010, when Ms Hopkins and Mr Walsh resumed contact with the man’s French father, Grégoire L., who they had not seen for 15 years. Ms Hopkins had wanted her son to take his father’s name, and the necessary paperwork was planned.
However, a dispute arose when Mr L. realised that the American family had searched his personal papers, including those relating to his father’s estate. The son then allegedly sprayed Mr L. with barbecue lighter fluid and tried to light a fire.
This ‘murder attempt’ allegation was later described as serious assault by the court, "mainly due to a lack of substantive evidence", said the court president, Christophe Petiteau.
However, the court found Ms Hopkins and Mr Walsh guilty of the attempted murder of Grégoire L. and his sister in 2015, when the mother and son tried to strangle the brother and sister outside their home.
Public prosecutor Olivier Bray said that Ms Hopkins and Mr Walsh, the latter of whom was his mother’s “armed sidekick”, he said, had been living in Paris in isolation three years before the attack.
They spent all their time “spying and harassing Grégoire L., driven by a "fierce hatred, an absolute desire for revenge", he said.
Investigators later found items such as camera glasses, camouflage waistcoats, masks, a saw, a machete and an axe in the duo’s basement.
The accused have always denied attempted murder, and presented themselves as victims of a “plot” by Mr L.
However, the court repeatedly asked the two why such a plot would be created, and said that it had not received a coherent answer.