French gardener brands British woman murder claims 'lies'
A gardener accused of murdering a British expat in rural France after their brief romance broke down has told a court the claims against him are "lies".
Jean-Louis Cayrou, 54, is charged with murdering his alleged former lover Patricia Wilson, 58, who vanished from her home in the Aveyron region of south-west France in August 2012.
Her body has never been found.
Mrs Wilson, who was originally from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, moved to Aveyron in 2008 with her partner, Donald Marcus.
Trial judge Regis Cayrol said Mrs Wilson first met divorced Cayrou between March and April 2012 and they quickly became lovers.
However, relations between them deteriorated by mid-July, the Cour d'Assises de l'Aveyron in Rodez, south France, was told.
Mr Marcus had returned to England to be treated for multiple sclerosis six months before the relationship between Cayrou and Mrs Wilson began, the court heard.
At the end of July, Mrs Wilson confided in friends about a violent argument she had allegedly had with Cayrou when she tried to end their relationship.
Her friends claimed that three days later, on July 25, Cayrou entered her house while she was sleeping and cut the electricity, before attempting to suffocate her, the court heard.
He is said to have told her: "I am doing this to show that you need a man in the house."
On August 8, Mrs Wilson returned to England for a visit, and was said to have been bombarded with calls from Cayrou, the judge said.
She went back to France on August 17, and was dropped off in Vabre-Tizac by her friend, Fiona McKinley.
But friends soon became worried when she failed to contact them, eventually letting themselves into her house on August 22 to check on her well-being.
They decided to call police when they discovered the electricity had been cut and found traces of blood.
Human blood and DNA from Mrs Wilson were found in the boot of Cayrou's car, on a head torch and a strap, the court heard.
Cayrou, wearing a dark blue ribbed jumper and light blue shirt, protested as the charges against him were read aloud by Judge Cayrol, saying they were "lies".
The defendant, who lived in a caravan in La Salvetat Peyrales, Aveyron, denies one charge of premeditated murder.
Cayrou was one of 10 children and grew up in a Catholic family in the countryside in Aveyron, the court heard.
He met his future wife, Sylvie Giral, in 1984 and married her four years later. The couple had two sons, Remi and Arnaud, and lived in Toulouse until they separated in 1998.
Following their split, tensions grew between the pair.
Mrs Giral claims Cayrou became violent and said she feared for her safety and that of her children, according to the case file presented in court and read by Judge Cayrol.
Cayrou described himself as a Catholic and someone "calm" and "reflective", adding that he had never been violent.
He has seen his children just a few times since the breakdown of the marriage, the court heard.
But Jacques Levy, representing Cayrou, raised his voice as he pushed his client to tell the court that he had tried to make contact with the two children.