Man ‘plotted to kill’ osteopath who left him disabled in France

The man, who suffered irreversible damage to his spinal cord, is accused of hiring hitmen to engineer a ‘revenge’ killing

The case is being heard in the Cour d’Assises (Court of Assizes) in Paris, with the defendant risking life imprisonment if found guilty

A Frenchman who became disabled after a damaging treatment from a fake osteopath allegedly hired hitmen to kill the practitioner in revenge, a court has heard.

Sylvain F, aged 52, appeared before the Court of Assizes in Paris, accused of working with an organised crime gang and attempting to engineer a murder. He reportedly hired the hitmen - three Georgian nationals - through a contact via his girlfriend and her father.

The accused now risk life imprisonment.

Fake osteopath

Mr F is a guitar teacher, and was left severely disabled in 2009 following treatment from Michel H, a 65-year-old physiotherapist, who was falsely posing as an osteopath despite not being qualified to do that kind of physical manipulation.

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A treatment that went wrong left Mr F with irreversible damage to his spinal cord as a result of improper handling.

Mr H has already been legally sanctioned for his actions, and was ordered to pay Mr F €30,000 in damages in 2015. He was also disciplined by the physiotherapy authority la Chambre disciplinaire de l’ordre des masseurs kinésithérapeutes d’Ile-de-France, for having falsely posed as an osteopath.

But now, Mr F is accused of engaging the hitmen to engineer a ‘crash’ in a bid to kill the physio, believing that the sanctions handed to him were not sufficient. Mr F had wanted Mr H to be barred from working as a physiotherapist in any capacity.

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‘Accident’ was actually alleged ‘assassination attempt’

The judge on the case has said that “revenge” became Mr F’s “reason for being”. The defendant had met his Georgian girlfriend on the dating app Tinder, and she - along with her father - is accused of helping him to find the hitmen.

On May 6, 2019, at around 07:00, Mr H parked his scooter on avenue d'Eylau (16th arrondissement in Paris), close to his practice. He was about to cross the road when the driver of a Citroën Saxo vehicle pretended to stop to let him pass. As he was crossing, the car suddenly accelerated towards him. He fell, but was only slightly injured, mainly because he had not yet removed his scooter helmet. 

He was given four days off work as a result of his injuries.

The victim reported the case to police, especially because the driver and passengers in the vehicle fled after the accident. Police inquiries revealed that the incident was not an accident, and had in fact been an assassination attempt.

Second plan

Mr F is also believed to have become very angry when he discovered that the Georgian men had left the country after fleeing the scene of the accident, and allegedly worked to hire a second team of hitmen to go to the physio’s house to ‘beat him up’.

"When you go to his house and ask where the cash is, all the jewellery, and the guy doesn't answer, that's when you punch him in the face. Then you can hit him harder,” he is accused of saying to his girlfriend, when explaining the plan.

But before this second attempt could go ahead, police arrested Mr F, along with his girlfriend, her father, and another man who was working illegally as a taxi driver. The latter is suspected of going to the airport to pick up the Georgian hitmen, and helping them to buy the Citroën Saxo that was used in the attack.

The taxi driver was not previously known to the group, the court heard, and had been paid several hundred euros to help. The taxi driver claims that he did not know his 'employers' were planning to attack the physio.

Others accused of involvement in the crime - including the Georgian hitmen - are still on the run, with a European warrant now out for their arrest. A friend of the disabled man also stands accused of not reporting the crime and perverting the course of justice. 

Yet, another reported friend - who was accused of the same thing - died in custody in February.

The trial is set to continue until May 10.