I came across this story this week in the National Post where it was very briefly covered. It was just too interesting to pass up. I also needed a bit of a break from covering political issues and this story fit the bill.
It seems that Nicolas Cocaign aged 39, a prisoner who was serving a sentence for armed rape (among other crimes) in the Rouen prison in France, got more than a little upset when his cellmate, one Thierry Baudry did not wash his hands after using the toilet way back on January 2nd, 2007. I can understand that; there's nothing more disgusting than having a bunkmate with stinky fingers touching things all over your shared quarters.
Here's a photo of Mr. Cocaign taken from the New York Daily News:
Rather than just getting a bit upset, it seems that Nicolas decided to stab his cellmate with a pair of scissors (or a razor blade depending on the source) and then suffocate him with a plastic bag until he thought he was dead. It's at that point that the story takes a really odd turn and started to head south in a hurry; Mr. Cocaign used the same scissors to cut open the chest of Mr. Baudry and attempted a dissection with intent to eat. He broke off one of his victim's ribs and took out what he thought was the heart and ate it in order to "take his soul". It turned out that he had actually ingested part of a lung and some of his victim's chest muscle. What he didn't eat immediately, he fried on a makeshift grill along with some onions. According to the medical examiner for the case, Mr. Baudry was still alive while he was being dissected based on the blood contained in the lung tissue.
Apparently, Mr. Cocaign had repeatedly requested psychiatric remand prior to his latest attack because he knew that he could be dangerous. Most unfortunately for Mr. Baudry, Mr. Cocaign's request was refused. Mercifully, the court sentenced him to 30 years in prison despite the fact that his defence lawyer's statement that it was "...exceptional to see a psychologically disturbed person say I have to be treated...". He also blamed the "...failure of the psychiatric, penitentiary and social system" for his client's "issues". He couldn't be more right there. Mr. Cocaign will have to serve at least 20 years of his newly acquired sentence.
Another inmate, David Lagrue was present in the cell during the attack and it so badly impacted him that it may have influenced him to later committe suicide in another prison in November 2009.
Let this be a lesson to us all. There is a really good reason that our mothers were constantly reminding us to wash our hands after using the toilet. Now we know why. In addition, now we also know now why it was so important to pay attention in those high school human physiology classes instead of sitting there daydreaming.
Now if only we could figure out why it was so important to to our mothers that we wore clean underwear when we went out of the house.