French serial killer's ex-wife Monique Olivier convicted for part in murder of Joanna Parrish

After more than 30 years Joanna Parrish has justice and her parents have answers as Sangita Lal reports

The ex-wife of a French serial killer has been convicted of aiding and abetting the murder a British student - more than 30 years since her death. 

Monique Oliver has been on trial in Paris for her role in the murder and kidnap of three young women and girls, including Joanna Parrish from Gloucestershire. 

This morning, Olivier spoke for the final time. To a packed courtroom she stood up, shaking, and said: "I’ve answered all the questions already. I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done and I ask forgiveness for the unpardonable - knowing that it’s unforgivable."

Ms Parrish, from Newnham on Severn, was 20 and working as a sign language assistant at a secondary school in Auxerre.

Her naked body was found in the river Yonne on May 17, 1990 soon after she'd disappeared. An autopsy found she had been raped and beaten. 

Ms Parrish was murdered by Michel Fourniret - jailed for life in 2008 for murdering at least eight girls or young women between 1987 and 2001. 

Her parents always suspected their daughter may have been one of his victims but he was never convicted. 

In 2018 though, Fourniret - known as "the ogre of the Ardennes" - confessed to several other murders including that of Leeds University student Joanna Parrish.

Fourniret died in 2021, before he could stand trial.

The court heard Fourniret's victims had mostly been shot, stabbed, or beaten. 

Monique Olivier, 75, already serving a life sentence for her role in the killings, has now been found guilty for complicity in the kidnapping and murder of Ms Parrish, and two other victims – Marie-Angèle Domèce, 19, in 1988 and nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin in 2003.

Olivier and Fourniret worked together to murder young women across 17 years.

Olivier's role was lure victims into their vehicle, using the fact she was a woman as a way to build trust with them. It also meant they were less afraid to approach.

Then, Fourniret played his part, either waiting in the back of the van or further up the road, ready for Olivier to pick him up.

Joanna Parrish was 20 and working as a sign language assistant when she went missing. Credit: ITV News

The court heard Fourniret had previously denied any involvement with Parrish's death, despite Olivier confessing in 2005. 

During the trial Olivier has apologised to the families of the victims and maintains she was controlled by her ex-husband. 

After more than 30 years Joanna Parrish has justice and her parents have answers. 

Addressing the French court, her father Rodger Parrish said: "Joanna was a kind, helpful young woman, who worked hard and conscientiously.

"She trusted people, but she was also smart, careful and intelligent. I and my family have always felt that it was very unlikely that she would have trusted a man acting alone.

"But one who had the help and assistance of a woman, this is possible. She would have trusted a woman, the presence of a woman."

At a press conference in Nanterre on Tuesday, he added: “there has never been any doubt in our minds at all” that Monique Olivier was “equally responsible for the murder of Joanna and the other completely innocent victims.” He went on to ask for a moment to remember all the victims, then said: “From the very first moment that a victim was identified, she knew exactly, exactly, what would happen to them.

"Not only did she do nothing to help them, but she actively encouraged and participated in both their capture and subsequent murder.

"Her presence alone would have gained the confidence of all the victims, who would never have believed a woman could be a part of such an appalling and depraved act. Her participation in these acts has now been proved beyond any doubt. “We can now remember our daughter and sister with a smile on our faces, which is how, of course, all her many friends remember her.”

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