Just who is British-born Robert Dolby? Is the 74-year-old a thoroughly dangerous dirty rotten scoundrel or is it just a case of the man who loved women a bit too much?
The British national is due to reach 75 in January and has been living on the Côte d’Azur for several years – first in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and then in Beausoleil. Starting yesterday at the Alpes-Maritimes Assizes in Nice, he is on trial for some serious offences: the murder of a 60-year-old woman and the attempted rape and subsequent murder of a second victim who was suffering from substantial visual problems.
Dolby has been incarcerated for almost three years awaiting trial at the Maison d’Arrêt in the southern city of Nice. The former chef, who worked all over the world, is claiming his innocence.
Arrested and remanded in custody in February 2012, this widower finds himself accused of having sexually assaulted and attempted to strangle 29-year-old Cindy at his home in Beausoleil. She was his roommate for a month at the time of the incident.
A neighbour corroborated the story of the young lady, who is adjudged as a credible witness by experts.
Robert Dolby, however, speaks of consensual relationships and is presenting himself as the victim in the case. If his version of events is to be believed, Cindy had something of a hissy fit. She hit him with a flower pot.
While under investigation, the judge then looked into the death of a sexagenarian that happened earlier – in March 2010 – in the apartment of the accused.
Even though the coroner’s report concluded that it was a natural death by cardiac arrest, the emergency doctor called to the scene at the time expressed some serious reservations. He was taken aback by the calm demeanour of Dolby, of the absence of a pathology that might have caused a cardiac arrest in the deceased and of strange reddish traces found on the pillows.
After the body was exhumed, the subsequent autopsy found significant traces of Zolpidem. This medicine provokes a rapid deep sleep and it could facilitate a killing by suffocation by simply blocking the airways, using ones hands or a cushion without leaving any marks on the body. Despite his protestations to the contrary, the retired British national is standing trial for this second crime.
The enquiry also showed that Dolby was sentenced to four years in prison in Britain 20 years ago for sexual assault. During the trial, he had pleaded not guilty, citing consensual games. His victim in that case had been rescued in the street – naked and in a state of shock.
During the course of trial (that ends this Friday), Robert Dolby will plead his case through the intermediary of an interpreter. Will he manage to convince the jury that he did nothing wrong in either case?
“It’s true that women and sex are dominant elements in his life,” smiles his lawyer Mr Jacques Peyrat. “But if the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco was meant to be his hunting ground, he certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a murderer.”