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Dutch pensioner charged with murder of 11 year-old British girl in western France

Police surveille the scene where an 11 year-old girl was shot by their neighbour in Saint-Herbot, France
Police surveille the scene where an 11 year-old girl was shot by their neighbour in Saint-Herbot, France Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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Local media reports suggest the British family had lived in the area for several years but had been in dispute with the neighbour over an area of land between their two properties.

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A 71-year-old Dutch pensioner has been charged with murder following the shooting of an 11-year-old British girl and the attempted murder of her parents.

British girl, Solaine Thornton, was playing with her eight-year-old sister on a garden swing in Saint-Herbot in Brittany while her parents prepared a barbecue.

71-year-old neighbour Dirk Raats then reportedly opened fire at them with a shotgun through a hedge.

Raats was brought before a judge at a criminal court in Brest. He remains in custody following the charges. 

If found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

FRED TANNEAU/AFP
This photograph taken on June 12, 2023 shows the garden and swing where a 11-year old girl was killed,FRED TANNEAU/AFP

Arriving at the scene on Saturday, gendarmes discovered the lifeless body of the victim. The couple's second daughter, aged eight, was found safe but in shock.

While her parents sat in their garden during a family barbecue, the accused, who it's believed was angry over a land dispute, opened fire.

Police say the pensioner and his wife both tested positive for cannabis and alcohol.

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