Three months after the long trial that took place in Angers, justice ruled on Tuesday, May 31, on the responsibilities that led to the fall of a balcony on the evening of October 15, 2016 from the fourth floor of the residence Le Surcouf, in the heart of downtown Angers. An accident that left four dead and fourteen injured, among the students who had gathered that evening for an evening that the guests and residents described as quiet and without excess.
Faced with civil parties who had expressed their distress at length in February and March, the president of the criminal court took great care to recall in the preamble the principles of law which had guided this decision. This did not prevent the room from trembling when Catherine Ménardais pronounced the release of two of the five defendants: the architect Frédéric Rolland (66 years old) and the works supervisor, Eric Morand (53 years old).
Far, very far from the requisitions of the public prosecutor. In March, Eric Bouillard had demanded four years’ imprisonment, two of which were suspended, a fine of 50,000 euros and a permanent ban on practicing the profession of architect for the first and three years in prison, including eighteen months. suspended sentence, a fine of 10,000 euros and a ban on exercising the profession of works supervisor for the second.
Only the builder of the building, Patrick Bonnel (72 years old), the site manager Jean-Marcel Moreau (63 years old) and the representative of the control office, André de Douvan (84 years old) were recognized as criminally responsible. The first was given a three-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 24,500 euros, the other two were sentenced to lighter sentences: eighteen months’ suspended prison sentence and 1,000 euros in fine.
To justify its decision, the court retained only the causes “precise and some directly related to the fall from the balcony”, namely: the bad positioning of the steels coming out of the facade and on which the balconies were fixed as well as the resumption of the concreting not in conformity with the rules of the art and which favored the corrosion of the said steels. The other causes mentioned during the trial were not considered decisive: neither the change in construction method (the balconies had been poured on site instead of arriving prefabricated without the execution plan being reviewed), nor the quality concrete (diluted, porous and not properly vibrated), nor the absence of rejingot and water drainage.
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