13.1 C
Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Rape victim navigates French legal system

Latest News

Local youth among those hardest hit by housing affordability crisis

A 20 per cent spike in rents is driving an increase in youth homelessness across the North Coast, the organisers of a national campaign to end homelessness say.

Other News

Step up, Ben

Martin Corben, Lennox Head With the cancellation of Bluesfest now would be a good time for the NSW state government’s...

Byron Bay wants Byron Baes to back off

Faster than speeding reality TV producer, members of the Byron community have swiftly mounted a multi-pronged attack against the proposed ‘influencer’ based Netflix show Byron Baes.

Poor Council drains

Kate Anderson, Mullumbimby In response to and support of Kerry Gray’s and Robin Gracie’s letters Echo 31 March). The McGoughans Lane...

Yamba restaurants

I’m often asked about Yamba, one of our favourite holiday spots over the last 20 years. With a great range of beaches, walks, tennis courts, skate parks and accommodation etc it’s been great for the kids growing up, and they still love it. Plus, it’s now only 90 minutes’ drive from Mullumbimby.

Eungella: Alleged domestic-related stabbing suspect charged with attempted murder

Police say a man will face court today charged with attempted murder following an alleged domestic-related stabbing earlier this year.

Hippie fools

Edward Kent, Suffolk Park So, have the ‘hippie’ hipsters of Byron Bay figured out how the new global establishment party at...

Claire McFarlane will return to Paris next week to live her story again. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Claire McFarlane will return to Paris next week an will relive her story for the French court. Photo Eve Jeffery.

The dream of being a young artist in France was shattered one July evening in 1999, when 21-year-old Claire McFarlane, who now lives in Byron Bay, was viciously slashed, raped and left to die in the arrondissement du Panthéon by an unknown attacker.

‘I was in France on a student visa’, says Claire. ‘I was learning French and had a part-time job in a bar, and I was preparing my portfolio for the fine arts school in Paris.’

It turned out that the man who assaulted Claire was a serial rapist who had offended just one month before in the exact same location.

But police, in the hope of not scaring him off, had not made the attack public and unsuspecting women went about their lives ignorant of the possible danger.

Claire says had she known, she would not have walked alone late in the evening after work to find a taxi.

Three months after the attack, Claire returned home to Australia to try to rebuild her life. ‘The police stayed in sporadic contact with me for about a year afterwards, then, a few years after that they archived the case. At the time in France, DNA records were not on a database.’ In the meantime, her assailant – Cameroon-born Eric Priso-Nseke Mouelle – had re-offended at least once.

Claire says that it wasn’t until 2009 when a young police officer found a pile of old cases that had not been entered into the database that Mouelle’s DNA was matched with Claire’s evidence.

DNA match

The case was re-opened and this is where insult was added to injury: ‘In June 2009 I was contacted by French police saying they had found the guy, they had a DNA match and I needed to get to Paris as quickly as possible to do a line-up.’

Claire identified Mouelle straight away and the process to convict him began.

Victim pays costs

In a confusing twist of French law, once Mouelle was taken into custody, Claire was asked if she wanted to prosecute the case. It was then she discovered that unless she paid for the court proceedings and legal representation, he would walk free. Claire went ahead – Mouelle was found guilty and sent to jail for twelve years. While it was a just result that played out in the highest criminal court in the country, it was financed entirely by Claire.

To date, these legal proceeding have cost her about $30,000. In an effort to try to recoup some of the costs, Claire must again travel to Paris. ‘In an attempt to claim back half of these expenses, I have now been forced into an appeal proceeding which will cost up to another $6,000.’

Recently Claire was advised she must again go through that traumatic event and needs to be in court in Paris on June 5 to testify – so she is mounting a GoFundMe appeal to ask for assistance.

CrossFit fundraiser

To help Claire along, the crew at CrossFit Byron Bay are holding a fundraiser where there will events for all levels as well as face-painters for the kids, a sausage sizzle, yummy paleo treats and coffee.

Half of the proceeds will go towards Claire’s GoFundMe campaign, and the other half is being donated to a local non-profit organisation that supports women who are victims of sexual assault.

The CrossFit fundraisers will be held this Saturday from 8am. For more information about Claire’s story visit www.gofundme.com/clairesbattletojustice.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Wow i find it amazing to hear that the authorities would not prosecute a violent rapist unless the victim could afford to prosecute!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Fresh faces for Council elections

A very distinct, black flat-cap has just been thrown into the ring for the upcoming Byron Council elections, pegged for September 4.

Follow the buck$

JK Mckenna, Burringbar Give Fast Buck$ his own column in the paper. Let him speak. Let him be heard. Let’s also see some accountability from councils...

A bouquet for Lilac House

L Jenkins, Byron Bay Nicole Habrecht should receive free paint and brushes and a pat on the back from Council for maintaining her house in a...

Bruns boarding house showdown Thursday

The stage is set for a crucial debate over the Brunswick Heads ‘Corso’ development in Byron Council this week, with staff recommending that the developer’s revised plans be approved.