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Finally justice for the British teacher murdered on her way to a private lesson

The 1990 murder of Joanna Parrish, a Leeds University student working in France, has once again hit the headlines. The former wife of French serial killer, Michel Fourniret has admitted to aiding and abetting the killings of Joanna and two other victims. Monique Olivier, aged 75, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.

It is now 33 years since Parrish was murdered and, in turn, 33 years since the Gazette first ran the story; one that we have continued to follow across the years.

Parrish, who had placed an advert in the local paper offering private English lessons, was approached by Fourniret to teach his son and agreed to meet him. She was met in the car by Monique Olivier, who remained in the vehicle while her husband beat the 20-year-old unconscious before raping, strangling, and then throwing her body into the river. She was found the next morning.

At trial, the lawyer for the Parrish family repeatedly asked Olivier why she hadn’t acted to stop her husband.

‘She would not have got into the car had you not invented this story of English lessons,’ he said. ‘You should have stopped him. You knew she would die the moment she got in.’

For the Parrish family, and Joanna’s boyfriend, Patrick Proctor, who travelled to Paris to attend part of the trial of Monique Olivier, this was their last hope for justice. Michel Fourniret was convicted of seven other murders in 2008 and jailed for life. It was not until 2018 that he admitted to the murder of Joanna and two other girls. He died in 2021 before these cases could be brought to trial.

Speaking at a press conference after the trial, Parrish’s father, Roger, welcomed Olivier’s conviction:

‘There’s never been any doubt in our minds at all that she was equally responsible for the murder of Joanna and the other completely innocent victims.

‘From the very first moment that a victim was identified, she knew exactly, exactly, what would happen to them. And not only did she do nothing to help them, but she actively encouraged and participated in both their capture and subsequent murder.

‘Finally, we now hope, after this last obstacle in our struggle to gain an element of justice for Joanna has been overcome, we can remember our daughter and sister with a smile on our faces which is how of course all her many friends remember her.’

Image courtesy of Michael Guibert
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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