Andrew Osborn








Murder she wrought, 31st May 2002 13:43

The great-niece of the creator of fictional Parisian detective Inspector Maigret this week confessed to a real-life murder and attempted cover-up worthy of her great uncle, writes Andrew Osborn

by Andrew Osborn

When Freddy Hulsmans, a policeman turned undertaker, looked at the corpse he was measuring up for a coffin, he knew there was something wrong. One of the estate agent's ears was practically detached from the head, while the yellowing skin of the deceased's face was badly bruised and showed serious signs of stress.

The man - Georges Temperman, 55 - did not look like he had choked on a piece of meat, suffered a heart attack and hit his head on a table as he fell. Yet that was exactly what his lover was claiming.

A death certificate proclaiming that Mr Temperman had died of natural causes had already been issued and the reputation of Genevieve Simenon - the lover in question - was beyond reproach. Mme Simenon was a highly respected doctor at a Brussels hospital and the great-niece of Georges Simenon, one of Belgium's most famous sons and the creator of plodding Parisian detective Inspector Maigret.

But years in the Belgian police force had taught Freddy Hulsmans to recognise a murder victim when he saw one. After a moment's reflection he phoned his former colleagues in the Brussels police department who begun investigating.

This week (two years after the event) a teary-eyed Genevieve Simenon, now 42, went on trial for murder in a turn of events which would have fascinated her bespectacled pipe-smoking great-uncle and given his fictional creation Inspector Maigret serious pause for thought.

Georges Temperman, the father of one of her four children, had not died of natural causes, she conceded.

Instead he had insulted her, gripped her by the throat, threatened to leave her and called her father a Nazi. He had also had a string of affairs with other women and treated the three children from her first marriage with contempt, she alleged.

On June 27, 2000, Genevieve Simenon snapped - by her own admission the only thing she could see was "red."

She took a wooden mallet from a nearby tool box and smashed it into her lover's head 18 times as hard as she possibly could. Mr Temperman was a big man but his responses were dulled - earlier that day Genevieve had injected him with a heavy dose of valium which had made him sluggish.

After Mr Temperman had breathed his last Genevieve washed, went for a drive around town, came back and removed every trace of blood from the flat before cleaning up the body and going out to work.

The following day she called a doctor, Edouard Adrianssens, who by a strange quirk of fate happened to be a former lover. He claims now that he was duped but at the time he happily wrote out a death certificate declaring that Mr Temperman had died of natural causes.

This week he sought to explain himself. "When I arrived the room where the body was lying was plunged into darkness and his head was covered with a sheet.

"She told me he had choked on a piece of meat and that he had heart problems. I lifted a bandage on his forehead and saw a wound but she explained to me that he had hurt himself falling. I trusted her - I never thought the unthinkable."

Mme Simenon, who has been in prison for the past two years, claims that hers was a crime of passion committed on the spur of the moment - but there may yet be another twist in this macabre tale.

Prosecutors believe that she may have tried to kill her lover by lethal injection, but failed, so resorted to brute force. Although Genevieve says she gave Mr Temperman a dose of valium to calm his nerves earlier that day, investigators have never found the syringe or any medical packaging because her clean-up of the murder scene was so thorough.

The trial, which has gripped Belgium and neighbouring France, is expected to wind up next week. If convicted, Georges Simenon's great-niece may be spending the next thirty years behind bars.