Man gets 25-year jail for killing wife, burning body

VESOUL, FRANCE (AFP) – A French court on Saturday sentenced Jonathann Daval to 25 years in prison for killing his wife and then burning her body, in a case that shocked the country.

The 36-year-old Frenchman was impassive as the verdict was read out. Earlier, he had said “Sorry, Sorry” in the dock, looking towards his wife’s parents.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence calling the 2017 murder “an almost perfect conjugal crime”.

Daval finally confessed to beating his wife to death and burning her body in the woods after initially reporting her missing.

The charred remains of Alexia Daval were found hidden under branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France in October 2017.

Daval initially said Alexia, a 29-year-old bank employee, had gone jogging and never came back. After her death he cut a distraught figure, appearing in tears at a press conference with his in-laws and leading one of several events organised countrywide in her memory.

Three months later, prosecutors said the IT worker confessed to the murder – admitting he had beaten his wife in a heated argument, knocking her face against a concrete wall, and strangling her.

He initially denied setting fire to her body, but finally admitted to that too, in June last year.

Daval changed his story several times, at one point withdrawing his confession, blaming his brother-in-law, and finally admitting to everything all over again.

Alexia Daval’s relatives answer journalists’ questions outside the courthouse of Vesoul, eastern France. PHOTO: AFP