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British girl shot dead in France was being ‘cradled by her mum’

Plonévez-du-faou's Mayor Says Neighbours Exchanges Were Sometimes 'Heated'

Solaine Thornton, the 11-year-old British girl shot dead in north-western France yesterday, was being cradled in the arms of her mother when police arrived on the scene, it has been revealed.

The little girl was killed yesterday when their 71-year-old Dutch neighbour allegedly shot through a hedge on Sunday evening in the hamlet of Saint-Herbot, in Brittany on Sunday evening, after a long-running dispute boiled over into violence.

Her father, Adrian, is currently in a coma in hospital after being hit in the head, while her mother Rachel was also injured. Solaine’s eight-year-old sister Celeste, who raised the alarm, was uninjured but deeply traumatised.

Suspect Dirk Raats has been officially put under investigation for the murder of Solaine, as well as the attempted murders of her parents.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Marguerite Bleuzen, mayor of Plonevez-du-Faou, confirmed the names of those involved and also revealed police had discovered Ms Thornton holding her daughter, who had been playing on a swing when she was shot.

The row stemmed from Mr Thornton clearing trees on his land using a chainsaw, Ms Bleuzen said.

She added: “We could see the neighbour was griping but there wasn’t anything at all alarming.

“It was Adrian’s land, he can do what he likes with it.”

“No one knew” the suspect, she added, who described his appearance when arrested as “a little guy with long white hair, a long beard, and completely wild-looking”.

She asked: “What on earth could have been going on in his head?”


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