Two elite French police officers were found guilty on Thursday of gang raping a Canadian tourist inside the judicial police’s prestigious Paris headquarters after a trial held steps from the scene of the crime.
Nicolas Redouane and Antoine Quirin were sentenced to seven years in prison for the rape of Canadian tourist Emily Spanton after a late-night encounter at a nearby pub in April 2014. They were also ordered to pay 20,000 euros in damages.
It was a scandal that rocked the elite police unit at the centre of the allegations, based at 36, quai des Orfèvres, an address synonymous in France with popular crime fiction and the real-life home for more than a century to Paris’s judicial police, who investigate major crimes. Those offices, on the Ile de la Cité near Notre-Dame, were relocated to northern Paris in 2017.
On the night of April 22, 2014, Spanton, then 34, made the acquaintance of a group of off-duty police officers at Le Galway, a quayside Irish pub across the Seine from the headquarters where they worked. After midnight, a pair of officers from the elite anti-gang brigade invited a heavily inebriated Spanton back to the office for a late-night tour. One of the policemen, Antoine Q., drove the woman back to the headquarters by car while a second, Nicolas R., joined them on foot.
The daughter of a Toronto police officer, Spanton would later tell investigators, “I had had a lot to drink. I couldn’t see myself going back to the hotel in that state and I thought that, going to a police station, I’d feel safer.” But the Canadian visitor would exit the building at around 2am in tears, barefoot and no longer wearing her tights, alleging she had been raped by four policemen, an account she later revised to at least three.
The officers, aged 40 and 49, who denied raping Spanton, had faced up to 20 years’ imprisonment for gang rape.
Prosecutor Philippe Courroye on Wednesday asked for seven-year prison terms for the officers, who kept their jobs while awaiting trial.
Spanton was “easy prey”, Courroye said. That night, he charged, the officers “were not policemen, but usurpers unworthy of their badges, acting in the same way as those they pursue”.
During the reading of the verdict on Thursday, the court said it had been “convinced” by “the victim’s consistent statements” and the “scientific and technical elements” presented, including DNA evidence and phone record analysis. The court also said it had taken into account the “particular gravity of the facts” and the location in which they were committed, a judicial police headquarters.
The officers now have ten days to file an appeal of Thursday’s guilty verdict.