A former Tory councilor on trial in France charged with murdering his wife by running over her with his Mercedes has denied the charge and told a court he loved her.
David Turtle, 67, appeared in court on Wednesday in Cahors, southwest France, on a charge of aggravated manslaughter for the death of his wife Stephanie in 2017.
Prosecutors alleged that 50-year-old Stephanie had either lay down in front of Turtle’s car to prevent him from leaving after an argument and that he ran over her, or that she had been knocked out during the argument and placed in front of the vehicle.
But Turtle denied the charges, saying he planned to drive after the argument and was unaware that his wife was in front of the car when he drove away.
“I loved my wife,” he told the court. “What happened broke my heart.”
David Turtle, 67 (right), has appeared in court in South West France charged with aggravated manslaughter of wife Stephanie, 50 (left), who was run over and killed in their home
Turtle told the court how he joined the RAF after school, worked in a shoe shop for 20 years and then in car dealerships for Peugeot and Mercedes.
He met Stephanie in 1996 on a holiday in Turkey for singles and said they were “attracted to each other,” he said.
The couple married in 2000 and lived near Bournemouth, where Turtle was a councilor for the Kinson North Ward and Stephanie had worked in Dorset’s human resources department.
In 2016, they moved to France because Stephanie’s dream was to open a B&B and they had found the “perfect” property, although it took “a lot of work,” Turtle said.
“We did that to be together. We loved each other very much,” he told the court, according to a report in The Times.
Major Alain Chauvin, a now retired police officer who led the investigation, said none of the witnesses questioned by his officers believed the death was an accident.
He told the court there was no way Stephanie could have gotten in for the £37,000, two-and-a-half-ton Mercedes E-Class without Turtle seeing it.
But defense lawyers hit back, saying there was no hard evidence that the death was the result of an accident or intentional act.
A court psychologist rated Turtle as a “normal intelligence” with an “obsessive” psychiatric profile, but otherwise an “educated and responsible man.”
Turtle faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty. The process continues.
Prosecutors accuse Turtle (right) of deliberately running over Stephanie (left) after an argument, but says it was an accident and he was unaware his wife was in the driveway
In previous accounts given to police, Turtle said the… The saga began on the evening of March 29, 2017, when the couple got into an argument after dinner.
He said the argument was resolved when his wife went to bed, but resumed later when Stephanie came out of the bedroom after midnight to go to the bathroom.
The former councilor said he wanted to take an overnight drive to calm down but “felt” he had to stop when he got out.
He got out and found Stephanie wedged under one of the wheels of the Mercedes with two tons of metal pressing into her ribcage, claiming he had no idea the car had hit her.
Prosecutors allege that Stephanie’s death was not the result of an accident.
During the interrogation, the investigating judge, Cybele Ordoqui, said it was unlikely that a woman would put on a bra and get fully dressed before going downstairs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Stephanie was found by police wearing a jacket, two t-shirts and a bra.
Forensic experts also claimed that Mr. Turtle “had to hit the accelerator hard” to run down and crush his wife, and tire tracks in the B&B’s gravel driveway suggested the car would be leaving very soon.
‘[Mr Turtle] cannot and has never been able to answer the question as to why he has not seen or heard his wife,” the indictment said.
In the days after Stephanie’s death, police also discovered a blog she kept online about the couple’s trip abroad and their new life in France.
Stephanie and David Turtle’s home in the Prayssac region of France is pictured with the Mercedes E-class, which eventually killed Stephanie, in the gravel driveway
Ms Turtle, who was 50 years old at the time of her death, wrote on her blog: “I’ve come to ask if maybe I’ve slipped from the number one spot of Mr. T’s affections… [Our] new Mercedes Benz E-class estate is clearly Mr T’s pride and joy.’
Detectives said Ms Turtle wrote that her husband “may have put as much effort into buying the Mercedes as he did in buying our new house.”
Ms Turtle called the car ‘she’ and cited ‘a few examples of why I might feel a little left out’, including: ‘She’s paid more attention to her than anything since we arrived in France, with weekly cleans and retouches in between …
“She’s spoiled. For example, it cannot be parked within 6 meters of a painting activity. Leaving home requires a physical check on traffic on our quiet country road – I actually have to get out of the car.
‘We approach junctions with the greatest caution, we both cock our necks to see if there are oncoming traffic and shout ‘all clear’. Eating or drinking is not allowed in the car, otherwise we will get greasy or sticky marks on her leather interior. The list goes on…’
The blog was posted in September 2016, two months after the couple moved to Prayssac, with the intention of turning La Maison Cedre – The Cedar House – into a bed and breakfast.