Mother killed six babies at birth

A 38-year-old French woman has been given a 15-year jail term for killing six of her new-born babies.

Hours before the verdict at a court in Normandy, Celine Lesage pleaded guilty to killing the infants at birth.

Prosecutor Eric Bouillard had sought a 16-year prison sentence for Lesage with no early release before half the term was served.

Lesage was suspected of killing her six new-borns between August 2000 and September 2007. She was charged with aggravated voluntary homicide and could have received a life sentence.

"Yes, I killed the babies," she said under questioning on Thursday.

Bursting into tears, she added: "I did it but... I can't explain it."

Four of the babies were smothered and two others strangled with small cords, a medical expert told the court at the trial in Coutances, in Normandy's Manche region of north-west France.

Lesage was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time, Luc Margueritte, discovered the tiny bodies in plastic binbags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes. He is the father of the last newborn and was a civil party in the case.

On the fourth and final day of the trial, Lesage told the court "she had prepared nothing" ahead of the deaths but nevertheless acknowledged that she had given birth in her bedroom with plastic bags and cords next to her.

Lesage has a 14-year-old son.