Alain Goffin (76) sentenced to 15 years in prison for wife's murder

The Hainaut Assize Court on Wednesday sentenced 76-year-old Alain Goffin to 15 years in prison for the murder of his wife on 27 April 2019 in Ham-sur-Heure-Nalinnes and for threats against her a year earlier.

Goffin strangled his wife, 69-year-old Eliane Abrassart, on 27 April 2019 following a dispute.

In sentencing him, the court took two attenuating circumstances into account, his age and the fact that he had no prior convictions. However, it also considered the seriousness of the case, in particular the fact that he had not hesitated to kill the woman with whom he had shared his life for over 50 years.

The last years were the most difficult ones

The couple were married since 1969. Eliane Abrassart was a battered spouse but she never considered leaving her husband, the court heard.

The last few years of their life were the most difficult ones. Eliane was sick and her husband was often violent when under the influence of alcohol. In 2018, he threatened to kill her. One year later, he made good on his threat.

Goffin spent 11 months in pre-trial detention, but was then released pending trial.

Public prosecutor François Demoulin had asked jurors to take into account the personality of the accused, whom he described as an authoritarian man with little empathy, and also to consider the personality of the victim.

No criminal record

Eliane was an anxious, depressive woman who was sometimes difficult to live with, Prosecutor Demoulin said.

“This state of vulnerability should not be a mitigating factor for her husband,” the prosecutor added. “What he did was the result of his impulsive and authoritarian personality.”

The prosecutor asked for a sentence of no less than 15 years, and a one-year sentence for the threats.

Attorneys for Alain Goffin pointed out that the 76-year-old had no criminal record, and that he had worked beyond his retirement. Maitre Preumont described his client as a courageous, generous man, who took good care of his sick wife before committing a terrible act.

'The photo of his wife never leaves him

“Even as a husband, he was not all bad. Not everything is absolutely black,” he argued.

The defence attorney also said his client had quickly expressed regret, asking the examining magistrate to be able to visit his wife’s coffin. “The photo of his wife never leaves him,” he stressed.

He wondered what sense it would make to send his client back to prison following his release after 11 months in custody. “Society has nothing more to fear from him,” the criminal lawyer from Namur said.

In the end, the court handed down on a 15-year sentence.

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