A Polish man who has admitted to the rape and murder of a nine-year-old French girl was on his way to England at the time of the crime, a French court has heard. Zbigniew Huminski, 38, was on his way to stay with his sister in Southampton when he snatched the girl, known only as Chloe, from a playground in Calais in full view of her mother.
Huminski has a long history of convictions for violence and burglary, and had been banned from staying in France. But the ban was unlawful under EU rules, and never enforced. He confessed to the murder on arrest, having been found near the woods where Chloe was found, naked and lifeless, just 90 minutes after being kidnapped, the Telegraph has reported.
Chloe was playing with a friend on Wednesday afternoon when she approached Huminski, who was drinking beer in his car, and sprayed him with a water pistol. He then grabbed her and shoved her into his car, before driving her to the woods where he assaulted and strangled her.
Forensic investigators reported evidence of “strangulation and sexual violence.” Huminski’s red car, bearing Polish number plates, was found nearby at about 5pm, just an hour and a half after the kidnap was reported. Huminski was arrested not far from the scene, heavily inebriated and on foot.
Chloe’s mother Isabelle screamed as she witnessed her daughter being kidnapped.
“I ran around the building calling out for Chloé,” she said. “I saw her lying on the ground behind the bins. And then the bloke, who I only saw from behind, took her in his arms and took her with him to his car, which started straight away. It was too fast. I was only a few metres away with my other children, but I couldn’t do anything. I was petrified.”
She added: “I am starting to realise that I will never see Chloé again. I don’t know how I’m going to tell her little sister and brother.”
Around 5,000 people in Calais took part in a march in Chloe’s memory on Thursday night, while the town’s flags were flown at half mast. Isabelle told the gathered mourners: “Chloe was just a child. Chloe was nothing but joy. Today we all mourn a child that just wanted to live. A terrible and unjust fate has cut this child down who will never be returned to us.”
It has emerged that Huminski has a string of convictions to his name, and that he has threatened children before. In 2004 he was handed a four year jail sentence for armed robbery. And in 2010, a court in Bologne sentenced Huminski to six years for sexually assaulting two women and a girl. The court also banned him from living in France following his release from jail.
But according to prosecutor Jean-Pierre Valensi, the ban is illegal under French law and so was never enforced. Upon his release from jail in 2014, he was sent to Poland where he was wanted in connection with burglaries, but was allowed to return to France this week, driving across the border in a Polish registered car. His intention was to travel to Britain to stay with family who had emigrated there, said Mr Valensi.
Chloé’s mother said she was “sickened and disgusted” at the failure to uphold the ban, adding “I can’t understand why he was in France.”
Nathacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, asked: “How could a foreigner with many previous convictions be allowed to move freely around Calais? There is a clear dysfunction in the way we keep track of repeat offenders.”
It later emerged that, in 2009, Huminski also threatened another young girl in Calais. David Selingue, a hairdresser, told AFP that his wife found the Pole in their nine year old daughter’s room, emerging from underneath a piece of furniture, brandishing a knife.
“He was pointing the blade towards her (his daughter) to threaten her,” Selingue said, adding that he then escaped through a window.
“He is bad, a predator, he observes and then acts.”