Is justice severe enough in the face of deaths occurring during hunting accidents?

Once again, justice will have to rule on a fatal hunting accident. This one engages the responsibility of a 17-year-old hunter, suspected of having accidentally killed last weekend a 25-year-old hiker in Cantal. What is she risking? For the moment, the teenager has been indicted for ” manslaughter “. And it is of course too early to predict the judgment to come. But in general, the sentences handed down are almost always suspended. This was the case in another drama which involved a minor, at the end of 2019 near Loudun (Vienna). A 47-year-old hunter, Freddy Taschet, was then killed by a 16-year-old hunting companion. Relaxed at first instance, the teenager was sentenced last month to a three-month suspended prison sentence. “To convict in matters of manslaughter, it is necessary to highlight the imprudence of the authorexplains his lawyer, Mr.and Carl Gendreau. However, there, my client tripped and, in his fall, his finger accidentally pressed the trigger. But the judge ruled he had been reckless in walking behind another hunter. Which is absurd. »

Sometimes justice pronounces firm. Thus in 2018, the Annecy court sentenced a 19-year-old hunter who had killed a 43-year-old runner to three years in prison, one of which is closed. At the end of 2020, four years, including one firm, were also inflicted on a 24-year-old man who fatally injured a 34-year-old British mountain biker in Haute-Savoie. In both cases, however, the sentence was adjusted, without incarceration.

These trials are often an opportunity for the defendant to express his deep remorse. “My young client was devastated by this tragedy”, indicates Mand son-in-law. In some cases, the verdicts are well accepted by the civil parties. “My goal was not revenge. I just wanted justice to recognize that a fault had been committed”, assures Hélène Taschet, the widow of the man killed by this 16-year-old hunter. But other decisions do not pass. France is a country where one has the right to kill without serving a single day in prison. All you need is a hunting license», explained in 2018 to The crossSandrine Guilbert, whose 12-year-old son, Nicolas, was killed in 2012, during a quad ride with his father. In 2014 in Dieppe, the hunter, 81 years old at the time of the events, received a three-year suspended sentence.

Like her, families find it difficult to understand that one can kill with a firearm without ever being incarcerated. “We have to do some pedagogy by distinguishing the civil sanction from the criminal sanction. In civil cases, the sums paid are often very high due to the seriousness of the damage. But in criminal cases, the faults must be significant and deliberate to lead to incarceration,” indicates Mand Khadija Aoudia, lawyer for the family of a man killed at the end of 2017 while picking holly in the Drôme.

“We can draw a parallel with fatal road accidents. If the driver was under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, the courts can send him to detention. If the accident was caused by an involuntary gesture, it generally issues a reprieve,” esteem Mand Jean-Christophe Lemaire, who defended the octogenarian hunter in Dieppe. A comparison that Mand Julien Roelens refutes. “We highlight the risk inherent in the need for the population to travel by car. But hunting remains a hobby practiced by a very small minority,” says the lawyer for a family in the Cévennes who, in 2018, experienced a traumatic adventure.

“Leaving the house with her 9-year-old son, my client heard gunshots, then she discovered that a high-caliber bullet had come, at child’s height, lodged in her son’s room .Then the gendarmes tried to dissuade her from filing a complaint, saying that there were no injuries and that it happened in the hunting areas. The mayor of the village also warned her that, in the area, it was better not to put the hunters on their backs”, tells Mand Roelens. Finally, the shooter was given a four-month suspended sentence and a five-year ban on carrying a weapon. “This case nevertheless reveals the formidable effectiveness of lobbying by hunters, who have succeeded in linking hunting and rurality, esteem Mand Roelens. So much so that in some places very serious incidents are minimized, believing that it is all part of the rural way of life. »


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