How mad does this bloke look? I suppose you must be to kill and then eat you cell-mate’s insides.Apparently nobody would listen when they were told he was crazy! Do you reckon they will now?
Alleged cannibal Nicolas Cocaign’s French prison a ‘failure’
Nicolas Cocaign, who allegedly killed his prison cell-mate
Nicolas Cocaign arrives at the courthouse
A PRISONER on trial for allegedly pulling out his cell-mate’s lung while he was still alive has put France’s troubled prison system under new scrutiny.
Nicolas Cocaign, 39, is charged with murdering Thierry Baudry by punching him, stabbing him with a pair of scissors and suffocating him with a rubbish bag before cutting him open with a razor blade.
Cocaign has admitted to the crime.
After removing a rib, Cocaign allegedly pulled out a lung, which he mistook for Baudry’s heart, ate part of it raw and then fried the rest of it with onions on a makeshift stove in his cell.
However, medical examiner Dr Patrick Laburthe, who performed the autopsy on Baudry, said the victim was still alive when the alleged crime took place.
He said a piece of Baudry’s lung had been removed “with almost surgical precision, with a very sharp blade”.
“We also found blood in Thierry Baudry’s right lung, which means he was still alive when the organ was cut,” Dr Laburthe told the court in Rouen, Normandy.
Baudry’s mutilated body was found by a guard. A postmortem revealed that two chest muscles and part of his left lung were absent.
Cocaign, whose face is tattooed with images including bloody tears and a skull, told investigators he had wanted to eat the victim’s heart to “take his soul”, according to the indictment.
The victim’s family was not present in court during the medical examiner’s testimony.
“I told them not to come, so they wouldn’t have to listen to these horrific descriptions,” their lawyer, Etienne Noel, said.
He said: “I only hope (Thierry Baudry) was already in a coma when it happened.”
The court heard findings from a report into a string of “failures” at the jail in Rouen where Cocaign was behind bars at the time of the killing in January 2007.
On the first day of the trial, Cocaign testified that authorities ignored his appeals for psychological help even though he had a long history of mental illness.
“No one was listening to me,” Cocaign told the court.
“I made several appeals for help, saying I was a man capable of being dangerous. I took action, and then they took me seriously.”
Cocaign said he is now getting treatment and feels “stable”.
Mr Noel suggested that conditions at the jail were also to blame for the gruesome murder.
Cocaign allegedly committed the crime following a dispute with Baudry whom he accused of plugging up the toilet with rolls of paper.
Three men shared the small cell where the murder took place and severe overcrowding has been regularly cited as a problem in French jails.
“How was it bearable for three people to share a cell of 11 square metres?” Mr Noel said.
History of illness
The trial opened a week after a separate tribunal ruled in favour of 38 inmates and former inmates who complained of degrading conditions at the Rouen jail, which opened in 1864.
The administrative court ordered the French state to pay compensation of between 350 euros ($490) and 17,500 euros ($24,594.20) to the plaintiffs after finding that most of the cells did not have proper sanitation nor ventilation.
With one of the highest suicide rates in Europe, French prisons are also regularly criticised by the Strasbourg-based European court of human rights for failing to provide basic needs.
Mental health experts are to testify during the trial this week as to whether Cocaign was sufficiently sane to face criminal charge for his acts. A verdict is expected on Friday.
The court has heard that Cocaign was abandoned by his 21-year-old homeless mother and cared for by the state until he was adopted aged three. From the age of six he was already under the care of a psychologist.
Reports from his childhood suggest he had difficulty telling right from wrong and his mental difficulties worsened when he was allegedly raped, aged 13. After this he developed “violent sexual compulsions”.
He was convicted of drug possession when he was 22 and later admitted to hospital on several occasions with mental illness. He complained to the court that he was not given drug treatment after release, despite asking for it.
“My compulsions were still there, so …” he said.
Cocaign was serving time for several rape convictions and other violent offences.
He faces life in prison if convicted for the murder of Baudry.