French woman, 55, ‘bludgeoned her work rival with a bottle of wine before sawing off her head and burying it in a communal garden’
- Sophie Masala, 55, faces life in prison for ‘meticulously planned murder’
- She bludgeoned Maryline Planche, 52, with a wine bottle and cut off her head
- Masala dug a hole with a soup spoon and buried rival’s head in a garden
- Rest of her body was packed in five bags and dumped in the Canal du Midi
A routine dispute between two middle aged female office workers led to one murdering the other with a wine bottle and then sawing her head off, a court in France heard on Tuesday.
The grisly case involves Sophie Masala, a married mother-of-two aged 55 who now faces life in prison, and the late Maryline Planche, who was 52 and single.
The pair were civil servants who managed funds for the disabled, but Masala developed such an ‘obsessional hatred’ for her colleague that she ended up killing her.
A court in Toulouse, south-west France, heard Masala plead self-defence, but prosecution documents suggest a meticulously planned murder.
Sophie Masala, 55, bludgeoned her work rival with a full bottle of wine before she sawed her head off and dumped her dismembered corpse in the idyllic Canal du Midi in southern France. The head was buried in a communal garden next to the victim’s block of flats and Masala used a soup spoon to dig the hole
After using the full wine bottle to bludgeon Ms Planche to death in her own home in the city, Masala returned a week later with a saw to slice her head off.
She then buried the head in a communal garden next to Ms Planche’s block of flats, after digging a hole using a soup spoon.
The rest of the body was chopped into parts, and then placed into five bags, wheeled away in a supermarket trolley and then dumped in the Canal du Midi.
Judge David Senat, the President of the Court, expressed astonishment at the way petty arguments had escalated, saying: ‘A disagreement about the filing of documents, about their office roles, about respect for their private lives – there are always jealousies in the professional context, but how does it lead to such a strong hatred?’
The trial of a woman accused of killing and dismembering one of her colleagues is set to run from October 21 to 26, 2019, in the court of appeal of Toulouse (pictured)
Witnesses have claimed that Masala was talkative and disruptive in the office, while the partially sighted Ms Planche was a much-respected member of staff at the Association for the Management of Funds for the Integration of the Disabled.
Masala has admitted that she had been exasperated at the way Ms Planche used to take work home with her, and went round to her flat in May 2016 ‘to complain’.
Pierre Dunac, Masala’s defence barrier, said his client had panicked, and this is why she lashed out with the wine bottle.
Ms Planche was recovering from an eye operation at the time, and her corpse was left lying in her home before Masala returned with the saw seven days later.
The killing only came to light when one of the bags containing body parts was found in the canal by a passer-by on May 24, 2016.
Masala has a previous conviction for theft, and in 2012 worked as a prostitute, with the compliance of her husband, the court heard.
The trial is set to finish on Friday.