The Daily Telegraph

Neighbour ‘killed student’ for disturbing Scrabble

- By Henry Samuel in Paris

A FRENCH man has been accused of stabbing his neighbour to death after the student “disturbed” his game of Scrabble while celebratin­g the end of Covid lockdown with her friends.

In May 2020, five days after France ended strict restrictio­ns, the victim, known as Romane, 21, and her flatmate invited friends to their Lyon apartment, a court heard yesterday.

According to police, the music level was perceptibl­e but not very high, and no other neighbours had reason to complain.

But shortly before midnight, her upstairs neighbour, known only as Benjamin C, 41, banged on the door. When she opened it, she had the time to shout “you’re mad” before the accused stabbed her with a kitchen knife.

He cut her femoral artery and she collapsed in a pool of blood. She died two days later in hospital.

Lawyers argued that the defendant violently overreacte­d to the noise because his poor sight had made his hearing hyper-sensitive.

Her friends chased away the defendant, whose face bore an “empty expression”, and telephoned emergency services and the police. When officers knocked on Benjamin C’s door, they found him calmly playing an online game of Scrabble. “How is she?” he reportedly inquired, dispassion­ately.

When questioned further, he said he could not stand the noise, managed to stop it, put the knife away and then returned to his game. Léa Forest, his lawyer, told Le Parisien he was pleading

‘He has sensitive hearing and can get irritated by the mere buzzing of flies or bees in a room’

not guilty to murder as “he approached [the victim] but didn’t realise he had wounded anyone” as he was almost blind.

He merely wanted to “scare” her, the lawyer said.

His manager told the newspaper that owing to his impaired vision he had a highly developed sense of hearing and could get irritated by the “mere buzzing of flies or bees in a room”. The trial continues.

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