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Niece of British junior minister goes on trial in France for murder

Jessica Davies, the niece of Britain's junior defence minister and MP Quentin Davies, began her trial for murder on Monday in Versailles, west of Paris. Davies has admitted to killing a young Frenchman in her home in 2007.


AFP - The niece of Britain's junior defence minister told police she was a "monster" after she confessed to the drunken murder of a young Frenchman in 2007, a French court heard on Monday.

Jessica Davies, the 30-year-old niece of Britain's multi-millionaire junior defence minister Quentin Davies, looked pale and drawn as she turned up in court in Versailles, west of Paris, on the first day of her trial.

Dressed in jeans and a grey cardigan, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, Davies showed no emotion as the charge sheet was read out before the three judges and nine-member jury.

In November 2007, police turned up at Davies' apartment in the chic Paris suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and found the body of Olivier Mugnier who had been stabbed and whose throat had been slit, according to the indictment.

Davies then told police "I did it. I can't tell you why, but I did it. I am a monster", the court heard.

Davies had picked up Mugnier in a bar hours earlier and after taking him to her apartment, contacted police to say she had stabbed the 24-year-old man, justice officials said.

Police said she was four times over the drink-drive alcohol limit and could barely stand or speak when they arrested her.

Davies arrived at the courthouse in a police van and rushed into the courtroom where her parents were present as were the victim's family.

The trial is expected to last two days, with a verdict due on Tuesday.

She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted of voluntary homicide without premeditation.

Davies, born in London to a British father and a French mother, was reportedly depressed after splitting up with her French boyfriend, with whom she had shared the one-bedroom flat for four years.

Press reports said she had tried to commit suicide a few months before the murder of Mugnier.

She had taken to going out on boozing sessions and picking up men, neighbours and locals said.

On the Saturday night before Mugnier's death she was seen drinking pints of beer and shots of alcohol in O'Sullivan's Irish pub in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Legal sources said psychiatrists who had examined Davies found she suffered from psychological problems and had a "borderline" personality and that responsibility at the time of the crime was "altered".

The British press had speculated after her arrest that Mugnier's death was the result of a sex game that turned to violence.

British papers drew parallels with a high-profile murder in Italy -- in a sex game that turned violent and led to its victim being stabbed in the neck -- just a few days earlier of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher.

The papers said French police have probed whether Davies was inspired by that murder, for which US student Amanda Knox was handed a 26-year prison term last month and for which her Italian boyfriend also got 25 years in jail.

Police found stab wounds on the young man's body, some of them on his throat. His death was caused by a knife blow to the chest, police said.

Her uncle, Quentin Davies, caused a scandal in 2007 when he defected from Britain's opposition Conservatives to the ruling Labour party, just before Gordon Brown was named the new prime minister.

He has since been appointed as Brown's junior defence minister.

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