Story By: Juan Fenandez Mayes, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
This 89-year-old Belgian woman has been given 10 years for murdering her 93-year-old friend after the older woman named her as the beneficiary in her will, and promised cash that she could only have when she died.
Court testimony heard that when the lifeless body of elderly Suzanne Thibeau was discovered lying on the kitchen floor of her home, the woman now convicted of murdering her, Clara Maes, had shouted “We have to call the lawyer” instead of calling for an ambulance.
The murder apparently happened when Maes visited her friend to help around the house with chores, as she did most mornings.
Both women were reported to have been close for many years which lead Thibeau, who was a childless widow, to make Maes as the majority heir in her will leaving her a reported 70 percent of her estate, with the remaining 30 percent going to a cousin.
Her husband had owned a garage but left her nothing when he died, and she often had to borrow money until the death of her sister in 2004, who had been married to a doctor, and she passed on the legacy of almost half a million Euros, which she barely touched.
Her friends had warned her to keep quiet about the money, but they believe that she did not, and a short while later she had many more people turning up to visit her than she had previously, and also many more people prepared to help around the house.
One of those was Maes, who had received a payment of EUR 290,000 from the older woman which she was only allowed to access after her friend’s death, and until then which had to remain locked in a bank account.
The victim was alone at home in Libramont in the Luxembourg province of the southern Belgian region of Wallonia when the attack happened on 3rd January 2015.
Maes denied murder, but, was found guilty by a jury from a Luxembourg court of assizes, the highest Belgian court with criminal jurisdiction and the only one that holds jury trials in the country. Belgian Luxembourg is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium and is not the same as the country of Luxembourg.
Authorities first thought Thibeau’s death was caused by a fall, but, started further investigating after noticing suspicious wounds on the victim’s head and neck.
Maes, who was 84 years old at the time of Thibeau’s death, became a suspect after investigators were alerted by a friend of the victim named Marie-Paule Collette. She felt the whole business seem suspicious and raise the alarm, according to news magazine ‘Paris Match’.
Authorities found some of the victim’s DNA in Maes’ car, which they think got there after the murder, and found inconsistencies in her story including a change of clothes on the day of the murder.
Local media report that despite the long relationship between them, the women often quarrelled, but no further information has been offered on the circumstances that lead to the murder.
According to the local press, Maes is the oldest woman to have been tried at a Belgian court of assizes.
It is unclear if she is expected to serve out her sentence in a prison.
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