family doctor tried after child’s death from malnutrition

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Is Gabin’s death in 2013 the result of a series of failures? This is what the Guéret Correctional Court will try to determine on Thursday, judging the doctor who followed the little boy who died at the age of 22 months of malnutrition and lack of care. The general practitioner, whose weight loss should not have escaped him according to the law, is being prosecuted for “not assisting anyone at risk” even though he has seen the child seven times in 14 months.

Gabin’s death was reported on June 7, 2013 after the child’s parents went to the emergency room of the Aubusson hospital in Creuse. The boy was in an apparent state of apparent death and medical teams were unable to resuscitate him. The fault is numerous ill-treatments inflicted during its few months of existence: the autopsy has established that the child, in a state of extreme filth, died of malnutrition and lack of care.

The heart of an infant’s waist

Last November, the Court of Appeal of La Creuse tried Edouard R. and Céline V., Gabin’s parents, for “deprivation of care and food resulting in the death of a minor”. During the four-day hearing, the court was able to detail the physical conditions in which the little boy was. At 22 months, Gabin weighed 5.8 kg, half the average weight of a child of that age. His organs had not developed properly: his heart was the size of that of a 4-month-old infant, his lungs were 6 months old. His ribs were visible and his muscles had melted, the medical examiner concluded.

At their trial, the child’s parents, without denying responsibility, could not explain why they let the little boy die of hunger and thirst. “Perhaps we forgot to give her a few bottles,” says Céline V., now 34, explaining this fact by the complicated family situation at the time. The couple, sentenced to 17 years in prison, no longer spoke and financial difficulties were piling up. The paternal grandfather brought them food, but no member of the family realized the child’s state of thinness, Only astonishment on the part of the entourage: in the presence of others, he constantly demanded food and water.

“Diagnostic error”

The child was not isolated. A month and a half before his death, he was once again examined by the family’s general practitioner, who followed Gabin’s grandmother, uncle and parents. The seventh consultation for the period from January 25, 2012 to April 25, 2013. Acknowledging ” a misdiagnosis” last November, this doctor assures that Gabin, always clean and well dressed when he came to the office, did not have any signs of abuse, nor did he behave like it. He remembers a smiling little boy huddled in his parents’ arms.

“But if the same story were to happen again, with the same elements in my possession, I am not sure that I would act differently,” he assured the court of assizes then questioned as a witness.


“This doctor has seen this child seven times for 14 months, you can’t think he couldn’t see the signs of abuse,” argues Yves Crespin, lawyer for the association L’enfant bleu, a civil party in the lawsuit. This child has not been protected, there has been no reporting work or measures taken to direct him to services that could have helped and cared for Gabin.” When contacted, the doctor’s lawyer declined to comment before the hearing.

Sentenced to 17 years in prison and imprisoned since last November, Gabin’s parents have also decided to form a civil party in the trial of the family doctor who faces up to 7 years in prison. They will attend the trial by video conference.  “Gabin’s mother is very concerned about this trial because she considers that she has a responsibility for the death of her little boy but is not the only one,” said Chloé Bonnat, Céline V.’s lawyer. She fears that the doctor will be released and that she and her husband will be alone in carrying this responsibility.”

He added: “She was unable to rescue her child and provide him with the care he needed because she herself was not rescued.”



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