French HR murders: Gabriel Fortin sentenced to life in prison
A man who fatally shot three ladies he accused of ruining his career has been sentenced to life imprisonment in France.
Gabriel Fortin, 48, was given the greatest sentence for murder and attempted murder by a court in the city of Valence on Wednesday.
This means he will spend up to 22 years behind bars.
Fortin, who was dubbed the “HR killer”, was arrested in 2021 – days after the women were shot dead.
Addressing reporters following the decision, the lawyer for the family of Géraldine Caclin, one of the people in question, told the AFP news agency that Fortin’s “only response to life’s failures, and we’ve all experienced them, was to organize this crime.”
Bertrand Meichel, the sole survivor of the attacks, was also present at the court and questioned the length of time Fortin would spend behind bars.
“When the death penalty was abolished in 1981, we were promised life imprisonment,” he said.
“Today, the law limits life imprisonment to 22 years, and the court will have no choice but to comply.”
The first killing happened on 26 January 2021 in the Alsace region of eastern France. Human resources manager Estelle Luce was shot in the head in her company car park after work.
Later that evening, about 50km (30 miles) away, another HR manager was shot at his home by a man posing as a pizza deliverer. The victim, Mr. Meichel, survived.
Two days afterward, 500km to the south, a man wearing a facemask and carrying a white plastic bag entered the Valence local job center, pulled a gun from a plastic bag, and killed the benefits director, Patricia Pasquion.
Minutes later another HR manager, Géraldine Caclin, was killed at an environmental services company near Valence.
The number plate of the car used by the gunman as he left the job center later led police to Fortin and linked him to the final murder that followed.
It was later revealed that Ms. Luce and Mr. Meichel had been involved in Fortin’s dismissal from a company in 2006. Three years later, Ms. Caclin led dismissal proceedings against the engineer after an unsuccessful trial period.
Ms. Pasquion never dealt with Fortin, but police believe he held a grudge against staff at the Valence job center, where he was registered until 2013.
During his two-week trial, Fortin remained mostly tight-lipped but claimed he was the victim of conspiracies that had led him to be dismissed from roles between 2006 and 2009, as well as spying.
Fortin’s lawyers suggested he was mentally unfit to stand trial, claiming he was isolated and suffering from personality disorders.
But prosecutors showed how he had thoroughly researched and plotted the attacks.