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Gaston DOMINICI

French Gaston DOMINICI

Convicted of the murder of the Drummonds

Source :  Richard GALIZOTRoger REYNAUD

Born: on January 22, 1877 in Digne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Died: on April 04, 1965 in Digne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France


Biography

On the evening of 4 August 1952, while on holiday in France in their green Hillman estate car, the Drummonds stopped by the side of the N96 main road, less than 200 metres from a picturesque farmhouse called La Grand'Terre. The site is marked by a milestone as exactly 6 km south of Peyruis and 6 km north of La Brillanne. A footpath leads from the site down to the banks of the river Durance.

La Grand'Terre was the home of the Dominicis, a family of Franco-Italian peasant farmers: the patriarch Gaston, his wife Marie, their son Gustave, Gustave's wife Yvette and their baby son Alain. It was Gustave who claimed to have found the three dead bodies around 5:30am on the morning of 5 August, and who flagged down a passing motorcyclist, Jean-Marie Olivier, telling him to fetch the police.

Anne's body was found near the car. Jack's lay on the other side of the N96, covered by a camp bed. They had both been shot by a Rock-Ola rifle. The body of 10-year-old Elizabeth was found 77 metres away, down the path leading to the river, on the other side of the bridge over the railway. Her head had been brutally smashed in by the stock of the rifle. The barrel of the murder weapon was soon found in the river, with the stock a short distance downstream. It is likely that the force of the blow or blows used to kill Elizabeth had also broken the stock off the rifle.

Gaston Dominici was convicted of the murders in November 1954, and sentenced to the guillotine. However, both the police investigation and the conduct of the trial had been widely criticised, and after two inconclusive inquiries, President René Coty commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Coty was succeeded in 1959 by President Charles de Gaulle, who ordered Dominici's release on humanitarian grounds, but did not pardon him, nor grant his request for a retrial.

The Drummonds are buried in the cemetery of the well-known tourist town of Forcalquier, about 25 km east of Lurs. Near the stone bridge over the railway, a cross with children's votive offerings marks the spot where Elizabeth's body was found.

The murders remain a subject of hot dispute to this day in France, where they are referred to as l'affaire Dominici (French). Alain Dominici, a baby at the time of the murders, has spent a lifetime campaigning for the innocence of his grandfather.

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