Patricia and Emmanuel Cartier are a French
husband and wife who in 2002 were convicted of deliberately injecting
their five children with insulin, a crime which resulted in the death
of one of their daughters.
In 2005, they were sentenced by a court in Beauvais
to 10 and 15 years in prison, respectively. At the time of their trial
Patricia, a carer for the elderly, was 44, while her husband, a
machine operator, was 37.
Context of the crime
The Cartiers argued in court that they were driven
to commit their crime out of desperation, caused by a €250 000 debt
which they incurred on numerous credit cards and an assortment of
consumer loans. They claimed that they had been caught up in a cycle
of consumption, including on products for their children: each of the
children had a television, two had personal computers, and three had
hi-fis and games consoles. Emmanuel Cartier eventually spent entire
nights juggling loans in a downward spiral of revolving credit.
The edifice finally collapsed. The family went out
for a meal at a local restaurant, and on returning home the parents
told their children they were giving them vaccinations for a holiday
abroad. Patricia Cartier then gave the five children insulin
injections, before giving herself the same injection. Emmanuel Cartier
attempted to slash his wrists. The children had been dressed in new
clothes bought with the last of their money. Patricia Cartier said in
court that this was so that they would be "nicely dressed when they
reached the other side."
The doses given were not fatal for four of the
children or the mother, but 11 year-old Alicia later died from the
injection in hospital. The four surviving children were initially
cared for by their grandmother, but coincidentally she was killed in a
road accident on the day Alicia died.
The Cartiers' lawyer said of the couple: "There are
responsibilities, but it would be profoundly unjust if they were to
bear them all."
The French philosopher Bernard Stiegler wrote about
the Cartiers in Mécréance et Discrédit: Tome 2, Les sociétés
incontrolables d'individus désaffectés (2006). An extract was
published in English translation as The Disaffected Individual.
Couple deep in debt plotted to poison their five
By Colin Randallin - Independent.ie
October 19, 2005
A COUPLE who saw no escape from their growing debt
mountain plotted to poison their five children then commit suicide in
the hope that the family would be reunited "in a better world".
Patricia and Emmanuel Cartier were lured deeper
into debt by easy credit and reckless spending, a court in Beauvais,
north of Paris, heard yesterday.
By the time they had decided on murder and suicide,
they had 17 credits cards - six of which had been cancelled by the
issuers - and an assortment of loans, owing a total of more than
But only one of the children, 11-year-old Alicia,
died. The doses of insulin administered to two brothers and two
sisters in August 2002, and by their mother to herself, proved too
weak to kill, while Alicia's father's attempts to slash his wrists
left him with no more than scratches.
Patricia Cartier, a care worker, was in tears as
she told the court that she injected insulin taken from the old
people's home where she worked into each of the children. She had used
the last of the family's money to buy new clothes so that the children
would be "nicely dressed when they reached the other side".
Mrs Cartier (44), said that after cash dispensing
machines began to retain their cards her husband had suggested that
they should commit suicide. "But I said, 'Who will look after the
children?'. I wanted to go with them, so that we would all be asleep
After giving insulin to the children, then aged
from 11 months to 13, she injected herself twice. She panicked when
Alicia developed breathing problems and called an ambulance. She died
three weeks later.
The court heard that the Cartiers, both struggling
in poorly paid jobs, juggled debts between a succession of credit
companies as they splashed out on electrical goods and clothing.
Emmanuel Cartier (37) and his wife face life
imprisonment for murder and attempted murder when the verdicts are
announced today. The couple's lawyer, Hubert Delarue, is appealing for
clemency, saying that they were driven to desperation. The couple,
described by a psychiatrist as "immature, emotionally insecure and
depressed", had combined earnings of about ?2,634 a month. As the
couple went on trial, there was no sign that their surviving children
had come to terms with their parents' actions. Mederic, now 16, and
his nine-year-old sister Mathilde had agreed to confront their
parents, having refused to see them for three years.
But one report spoke of a "dreadful face-to-face
encounter between parents searching for the least sign of love and a
boy and a girl visibly disinclined to forgive".
Debt-ridden parents tried to kill family
French court hears how loans pressure led to plot
1 child died but 4 survived injection by mother
By Jon Henley - Guardian.co.uk
October 18, 2005
A desperate couple tried to kill their five
children and themselves by injecting them with insulin after running
up €250,000 of debt with 20 different credit firms, a French court
Emmanuel Cartier, 37, a machine operator, and his
wife, Patricia, 44, a carer for the elderly, appeared at Beauvais
court, north of Paris, charged with murder and attempted murder after
falling into what their lawyer, Hubert Delarue, called an "infernal
spiral" of consumer spending and easily obtained credit.
One of the couple's daughters, Alicia, died in
hospital after the injection. The others survived and now live with
relatives: the doses administered by Patricia Cartier, using seven
syringes and three bottles of insulin taken from her workplace, proved
too small to be lethal.
After 15 years of marriage, the Cartiers, described
by a psychiatrist as "immature, emotionally insecure and depressed",
had six different bank accounts, 21 distinct consumer loans and 15
credit cards. They earned €1,300 (£900) a month each, with an extra
€500 in family allowances.
Before the trial, Mr Cartier told the daily
Libération that consumer credit was "like the air you breathe: you see
an attractive ad, you call up. You get a form, you fill it in. The
cheque arrives in the post 48 hours later. You never see or speak to
anyone. You repay so little you barely notice. It gives you the
feeling life is sweet."
The couple lived in a new bungalow bought five
years ago after paying an adviser from the mortgage company to
consolidate debts. "I never thought we'd get the mortgage," Mr Cartier
said. "When we did, I thought well, those people know better than us.
We're plainly OK." Most of the borrowing went on their children,
Mederic, Alicia, Mathilde, Marina, and Thomas, aged between 11 months
and 13 years; each had a television, two had PCs and three had hi-fi
and games consoles.
By May 2002, Mr Cartier said, he was spending
"entire nights" juggling loans, credit cards and bank accounts -
transferring debt from one to another, repaying a little here and
borrowing a bit there, taking advances on his pay cheques.
But in August that year, a cash machine swallowed
one of the credit cards. Then their bank refused to pay the
electricity bill. And suddenly, the whole edifice collapsed: debt
collectors began calling, writs began replacing loan offers in the
Documents revealed that the couple used a last
cheque from one credit firm to buy new clothes for the children "so
they'd be well dressed in the next world". They went for a meal at a
Then Patricia gave everyone except her husband an
injection, telling the children it was "a vaccination for a holiday
abroad". Mr Cartier was supposed to slit his wrists, but managed
little more than a scratch before calling the emergency services.
The couple, who were freed last year after two
years in prison but face life sentences if convicted, were "living by
the infernal logic of a consumer society, sucked into a terrible
spiral of debt, taken in by the poisonous charm of revolving credit",
said their lawyer. "There are responsibilities, but it would be
profoundly unjust if they were to bear them all".