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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Drunken rage - Former French rugby captain
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 7, 2004
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 30, 1959
Victim profile: His wife Chantal, 44
Method of murder: Shooting (.357 magnum revolver)
Location: Saint Savin, Poitou-Charentes, France
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison on November 10, 2006

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Marc Cécillon (born 30 July 1959) is a former French rugby union player, who captained the national side on five occasions. He represented France from 1988 to 1995, with 46 test caps, including playing in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups. Cécillon, who played both number 8 and flanker, was known as the Quiet Man of French rugby.

In August 2004, Cécillon was arrested by French police for murdering his wife, whom he shot in front of 60 people at a party in Saint Savin (near to Bourgoin-Jallieu). Blood exam showed that Cécillon was drunk.

On 10 November 2006 Cécillon was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to 20 years in prison, five more years than the prosecution had sought. The French media heavily followed the case.


Rugby's Brutal World Exposed By Killing

French establishment accused of closing ranks around hero who shot his wife in drunken rage.

August 14, 2004

Last Sunday morning, Marc Cécillon, 45, woke up in a police cell, with an aching head and a mind full of questions. He called for his wife, 'Chantal, Chantal', but gendarmes came instead. 'I want my wife,' said the rugby star. 'You can't have her,' said the officers. 'She is dead. You shot her last night.'

Gendarmerie Lieutenant Luc Vanaud says that when 6ft 4in Cécillon was told that, at a party the previous night, he had killed his 44-year-old wife, he refused to believe it. 'But I love her. She means everything to me, I owe her everything,' he said repeatedly, then crumbled. Since then, Vanaud said, the 'Quiet Man' of French rugby has been monosyllabic.

Whatever the domestic details that led one of France's toughest, most dependable rugby figures to kill his wife with four shots from a .357 magnum, it seems Cécillon's mental disintegration began years ago and came to head after his retirement last year.

If Chantal was the victim of male brutality, Marc fell prey to fame, alcohol, shyness and, it seems, a terrible need to be loved.

That Saturday night, at least 60 people were enjoying the end-of-season party at the Flosailles villa of Christian and Babeth Beguy, near Bourgoin. A marquee had been erected in the garden and spirits were high in the best traditions of rugby parties among the players of top-16 club Bourgoin and local sides Pont-de-Chéruy and Saint Savin. The host's oldest friend, Marc Cécillon - 46 times capped for France, five of them as national captain - was guest of honour.

Chantal, a medical secretary who had married Cécillon when she was 17 and had two daughters by him, arrived on time but without her husband.

That was not unusual; he had spent the afternoon riding his Harley-Davidson and would be along later. The couple were known to have their differences and, among the rugby wives, there were rumours of a mistress and a son born out of wedlock.

When he arrived, at about 11pm, Cécillon was drunk. Almost immediately, he flew into a rage against his hosts and, according to some accounts, he slapped Madame Beguy before leaving the party. A few moments later, just before midnight, the Beguys' teenage son, Alexandre, was in the bathroom of the family house.

Through the window, he saw Cécillon returning down the driveway to the house, which is lined by a maize field on one side and a vineyard on the other. He saw him tuck a gun into his shorts. The teenager ran to warn as many guests as possible that Cécillon was armed, and suggested they move further into the garden.

But Cécillon, a terrifying colossus when drunk, headed straight towards Chantal, who was sitting at a table with friends. He shot her four times, in the arm, chest and head. As guests tried to overpower him, Alexandre threw a breezeblock which hit Cécillon on the back but, according to witnesses, made no impression. Several of the guests finally managed to tackle Cécillon to the ground. Gendarmes say that when they arrived, he had been tied to a chair with electrical cord and was asking for Chantal.

The humiliating scene of the disabled, incoherent giant was in stark contrast to the image of Cécillon in France and the rest of the rugby-playing world. The former back-row forward and number eight, was first capped in 1988 against Ireland after entering first division rugby with Bourgoin at the age of 17. His 22nd cap, in 1992, was marked by him being named captain, though he said he felt uncomfortable with the responsibilities of the role.

He continued to be selected for France and played his last international in 1995 at the Five Nations in Dublin. In 1989, he was named as the number eight in an all-star line-up to mark the centenary of the South Africa Rugby Football Union.

Cécillon's friend of 15 years, retired rugby player Jean-François Tordo, saw him on the fateful Saturday afternoon. 'Marco was on his Harley. He dropped by for a coffee and stayed about two-and-a-half hours,' said Tordo, 40, who runs the Insolite lakeside restaurant near Flosailles. 'We had played boules the night before and he had won. He wanted to stay on and play again. He did not want to go to the party.

'Marc was always being invited for drinks, to parties - people looked good if they had him as a guest and they bragged if they had spent an afternoon drinking with him. He couldn't say no but he found it a burden to be in such demand.

'He was a man with no limits. He did everything with passion. In a way, I think there was love in what he did - in killing her, I mean. At least there wasn't evil. I think what happened was the result of an accumulation of years of unexpressed emotions. He needed affection, he needed his friends but, equally, he did not show his emotions. He was this giant iceberg and we only saw the tip of him. As his friend, I feel I should have been more sensitive to the pain under the surface.'

Tordo's wife, Pascale, in common with other women who knew the couple, gives a harsher view of Cécillon.

'He was a drunk. He drank, he screwed, and he always got away with it because he was Marc Cécillon. That's what 20 years of alcohol does to you - little by little it destroys you. Marc could not cope with his life. When you kill your wife, you are killing your life,' she said.

Further up the road, at the L'Aventure Café in Chantal's home village, Vénérieu, the Cécillon drama is the central focus of conversation. But that doesn't mean everyone is siding with Chantal. Rather, it's a men/women thing, with villagers refusing to demote Cécillon from the hero status he earned in 27 years of rugby. One man even suggests 'it takes guts to shoot your wife'.

The women, on the other hand, suggest the heavy-drinking, macho rugby fraternity has closed ranks. 'Cécillon was a madman,' says one woman. 'If he came anywhere near you, there would be trouble.'

At the rugby stadium in Bourgoin, where a stand was named after Cécillon last year, club chairman Pierre Martinet said the 'Quiet Man' appeared to have had trouble adapting to ordinary life - and a job as a salesman of artificial sports turf - when his professional career ended last year. 'I have known Marc for 12 years. I often saw him with Chantal, who was very proud of him. I never noticed problems between them and I never personally saw him drunk. But it is clear that his recent lack of activity tended to incite him to drink.' Earlier this year, sensing Cécillon was struggling with life as a ex-player, Martinet appointed him honorary manager of Bourgoin and put him in charge selling corpo rate VIP suites at the club's stadium.

It was a role which aimed to keep him on the inside of the game - which he finally left last year after a season with Fédérale 2 team Beaurepaire. No one can save another man,' said Martinet. 'If those of us who knew Marc put our hands to our hearts, we have to admit there were problems with alcohol and giving up playing. But no one had the full story. No one really knew what went on at home. It is too easy to be wise after the event.'


Cecillon 'depressed when he shot wife'

November 08, 2006

FORMER France rugby captain Marc Cecillon has told a French court he still loved his wife, whom he shot dead during an alcohol-fuelled depression he sank into after his retirement from the game.

Cecillon, 47, a loose forward who won 46 caps for France, has admitted shooting his wife Chantal with a Magnum revolver in a drunken rage in August 2004 in front of some 60 party guests.

The former rugby star told a court in the southeastern city of Grenoble he should have dealt with his psychological problems before they overwhelmed him.

“I admit today that I fell into alcoholism whilst being totally wrapped up in my own little bubble. I exploded without knowing why,” Cecillon said.

“I always loved my wife and I love her still,” added Cecillon, who had previously said he only wanted to intimidate Chantal, not kill her.

Following his retirement from rugby in 2003, Cecillon had been prone to heavy drinking, bouts of violence and jealous rages against his wife the court heard.

“I should have spoken up. Today, I realise this because of the 27 months I've spent in prison which have allowed me to think and work on myself,” the heavy-built Cecillon said.

“I turned in on myself too much, I was like a nutshell. Perhaps I turned too much to alcohol. I used it to escape.”

Family members burst into tears when he described his inability to speak of his difficulties. He could face life in prison if found guilty when the verdict is announced on Friday.

His daughters, who appeared as co-plaintiffs in the case, told police their father's alcoholism had turned family life into hell. One burst into tears in the courtroom.

Police said Cecillon had been drinking heavily at the 2004 party in the southern village of Saint-Savin and was asked to leave after he slapped a woman.

He returned with a revolver and shot his wife when she refused to follow him outside. Cecillon suffered a head injury when other partygoers overpowered him.


French sportsman guilty of murder

BBC News

Friday, 10 November 2006

Former French rugby captain Marc Cecillon has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for murdering his wife.

Cecillon, 47, had admitted shooting his wife, Chantal, with a revolver at a party in 2004 but had denied murder.

Cecillon, who won 46 caps for France between 1988 and 1995, said he was depressed and drunk at the time and did not intend to kill her.

But the court in Isere found him guilty of murder, rather than the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

His 20-year sentence was five years longer than that requested by the prosecution.

The case has received huge media coverage in France.

'Crime of passion'

Summing up on Friday, prosecutor Francoise Pavan-Dubois said Cecillon had not acted on the spur of the moment but had planned to kill his wife.

Cecillon shot his wife five times at point-blank range during a garden party in the town of Saint-Savin on 7 August 2004.

He was reported to have arrived at the party drunk and slapped the hostess for no apparent reason before being asked to leave.

Mrs Cecillon refused to leave with him, the court heard. He went home and returned shortly afterwards, when he pulled out a Magnum handgun and shot her in the presence of about 60 witnesses.

"I wanted my wife to come back with me. I wanted the two of us to leave together," he said in court.

"Why did I shoot? It is a question I shall ask myself all my life. I didn't plan anything. I wish I could understand."

A dozen people struggled to overpower the 1.92m-tall (6ft 4in) sportsman before police arrived.

Clemency plea

His lawyers said it was a crime of passion, committed under the influence of alcohol.

They argued that the incident happened while the former captain - described as "the calm man of rugby" - was in the grip of depression sparked by his retirement as a top sportsman.

During an emotional intervention in court, Cecillon's 26-year-old daughter Angelique, who had not spoken to her father since the murder, began sobbing.

"I don't think my father intended to kill my mother," she said.

She then begged the jury to show clemency, telling them that she missed both her parents and that her father had already been punished enough.



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