British man, 32, arrested in France for sexual assault and murder of mother-of-three who was 'stabbed so many times her face was unrecognisable'
British man, 32, arrested over the murder of a mother killed while out jogging in FranceJoudia Zimmat's body was discovered lying on a track in Nimes in the south west of the countryThe 34-year-old, who had three children, had been stabbed, beaten and sexually assaulted, police in France sayArrested man described as 'nice', 'polite guy', who had recently moved to France from Chatham, Kent

Peter Allen


11:29 GMT, 29 January 2013



12:07 GMT, 29 January 2013

A British man has been arrested in France following the brutal murder of a mother-of-three who was out jogging.

The man, who has not been named but who is 32 and originally from Chatham in Kent, lives just a few hundred yards from the scene of last Thursday’s attack on the outskirt of Nimes.

Police launched a manhunt in the popular tourist town after the semi-clothed body of 34-year-old Joudia Zimmat was found in scrubland.

Nimes: The man arrested had recently moved to the popular tourist town in the south west of France from Chatham in Kent

Nimes: The man arrested had recently moved to the popular tourist town in the south west of France from Chatham in Kent

Teachers at her children’s school raised the alarm after she failed to turn up to pick them up at the end of lessons.

A box cutter-style knife and two stones coated in blood were found nearby, and are believed to have been used by the murderer.

One police officer said: 'She had been cut and beaten with rocks. Her throat had been slit and her face was unrecognisable. She had been slaughtered.'

‘The woman was attacked and then murdered in cold blood,’ said another Nimes police source.

The source added that Ms Zimmat, who was from a Tunisian immigrant background, had been sexually assaulted.

She regularly went running on jogging paths in Courbessac, a quiet suburb of Nimes, which is famous for its Roman remains including an amphitheatre.

'The woman was attacked and then murdered in cold blood'

Police in Nimes, France

The suspect, who lives with his mother, has hand injuries ‘consistent with bramble scratches’ and the victim’s body was found ‘in a thicket of brambles’, the source added.

His clothes are also said to have been covered in blood. The British man was arrested by judicial police officers from the southern city of Montpellier, and is alleged to have left evidence at the scene of the crime, said Nimes prosecutor Stephane Bertrand.

This is believed to include traces of DNA. Today police conducted a search of the suspect’s home, and he was present.

He wore handcuffs and a khaki jacket, and concealed his face from photographers. A neighbour of the arrested man said he was a ‘very nice, very polite guy’, who was often seen walking his dog in the area.

He had recently moved to France from Kent, the neighbour added. The victim is the mother of two young girls and a boy, and lived with her boyfriend.

Local residents described Ms Zimmat as a 'pretty and petite woman', who had recently moved to a house in the area with her family.

A local police spokesman said: 'A British man has been arrested. The matter is now being handled by police in Montpellier.'