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Boy, 9, lived for two years off stolen tomatoes and tinned food after mother abandons him for boyfriend

A boy who was abandoned by his mother and lived alone for two years in a French flat survived by eating cold tinned foods and pilfering tomatoes from neighbours.

The nine-year-old now refuses to see his mother, who left her young son during the Covid pandemic in order to live with her boyfriend in a village three miles away from their flat in Nersac, a village on the outskirts of Angoulême.

The neglected child was unable to turn the heating on, and was forced to shower in cold water and wrap himself in three duvets during the winter months to keep warm.

Despite this, he masked his suffering by attending school every day, with teachers reporting that he appeared “happy and well-adjusted” and consistently achieved good grades.

Psychologists have suggested that this routine may have “saved his life”, with teachers failing to notice he had been abandoned given his clean appearance and his hard working attitude in classes.

A neighbour eventually sounded the alarm after he repeatedly saw the young boy walking to school on his own.

It has been reported that neighbours had previously tried to express concern to the boy’s mother between 2020 and 2022, but she had informed them to stay out of her business.

Duirng this period, the young boy survived by eating biscuits and food scavanged from neighbors, which included stealing tomatoes from a nearby balcony.

Barbara Couturier, the mayor of Nersac, said the boy had appeared so normal that no one suspected what he was struggling with behind closed doors.

“He was smiling, a very good pupil, always clean and polite. Nothing suggested he was abandoned. I challenge anyone who can say they would have detected this situation,” she told local media.

Investigators have continued to interrogate staff at the boy’s school, to try and understand how his neglect went unnoticed for two years.

A classmate told TF1 television: “He told his mates that he ate his meals alone and took the bus alone. He didn’t go out and stayed home all the time.”

During his mother’s trial, the 39-year-old claimed that her son had lived with her, but mobile data sourced from the police proved she had hardly been at the flat.

The boy has now been placed into care and is living with a foster family, and reportedly does not wish to see his mother.

Speaking of their guilt, neighbours told local media that the anonymity of modern life had contributed to the neglect continuing for such a long time.

“When there was a family and a village around the family, if the mother neglected the child, it didn’t matter too much, because the rest of the family and the whole village took care of the child. It’s not like that any more,” one local resident said.


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