July 28, 2021

“We would have given him the good Lord without confession”: in Calais, the anger of the victims of a former funeral director

A basin of scarlet geraniums tries to embellish the simple concrete slab. Vincent Hernault and his wife, Graziella, put down two plastic candles bought the day before in a discount decoration store. Graziella, blonde boyish cut, tilts her head: “It only cost two euros, but it’s the gesture that counts …” Under the concrete of the small cemetery of Rodelinghem, in Pas-de-Calais, lie Nadine and Jean-Louis, Vincent’s parents. Since their deaths in July 2015 and January 2021, the son Hernault has not been able to meditate on the marble stele that he has so many times imagined. He fumed as he watered the flowers: “It’s horrible for me. I think about it every day. “

Vincent, however, spent 3,000 euros, with one of his brothers, for an anthracite monument chosen from the premises of the Ringot funeral directors. When their mother died in 2015, this tall fellow with the ch’ti accent pushed open the door of the agency, installed in a prefabricated building in the industrial zone of the village of Attaques.

A rider boss at attractive prices

“My wife had heard about this business from a friend. It was not expensive and you could pay in installments. He meets Reynald Ringot. This boss then in his thirties with a bald head, “not very tall”, looks “nice” and “open”. “We would have given him the good Lord without confession. The man grew up in the region. His family still lives there. Young, he collected the tickets in a ducasse, the name given to fairgrounds in the North. He becomes an undertaker “in his twenties,” he explains over the phone. ” A passion “. And set up his own business in 2012.

In 2015, when Vincent used his services, Reynald Ringot was already advertising on social networks. Its slashed prices attract small purses. The months go by. Still no stele. Vincent Hernault recalls the undertaker of the Attacks. “He always had an answer. He told us that the boat carrying the marble was stuck at sea, that it could not enter the port of Calais because of the migrants, etc. »« We are in our own little world. We believe in it, breathes Graziella. We don’t think he’s ripping us off because it’s inhumane to do that. We are talking about our dead. “

“That’s what you’re doing for little Chloe”

At the same time, a news item froze the region. A 9-year-old girl, Chloé, is found dead in a Calais wood. The child with the mischievous smile was kidnapped, raped and killed by a Polish worker. In the local press, Reynald Ringot was moved by the drama and offered to offer the stele and the funeral to the family. In the living room of her orange brick house in a working-class district of Calais, Isabelle Hyart, Chloe’s mother, remembers: “We hadn’t asked for anything but we went to see him. We had never had to take care of a funeral before… Reynald Ringot offered us the cheapest stele. But we wanted better for Chloe. “

Six years later, Isabelle swallows back her tears with an embarrassed smile. On her right wrist, two angel wings surround her daughter’s first name in ink. The walls of her living room are drowned under the photos of her four children. She struggles to recall her memories: “We chose a chapel that cost twice what it offered, and we agreed to pay the difference. “

Reynald Ringot prints the press article which mentions this generous donation and pins it next to his Attacks office. “I still remember it. It was an A3 sheet in black and white. I saw him right away when I got home and said: That’s what you do for little Chloe », Rewinds Priscilla Duplanquet. In July 2015, this employee at the town hall of Calais mourns the brutal loss of her father, who died at the age of 53. Like the others, she has fond memories of her first exchange with Reynald Ringot. “He’s kind enough. He even advises us for the funeral. Her brother, who attended the meeting, has a bad feeling. “When we left the meeting, he said to me: him, I don’t feel it. But we had not come for a kitchen. Our father was being buried. So it’s unimaginable. “

The Duplanquet family validates the estimate. She pays 4,500 euros in several monthly installments. But for weeks, Priscilla hears the same refrain: the migrants, the boat stuck in Le Havre, in Brazil, in Toulon… “It has been around the world. “

The case was publicized the following year. Rumors of liquidation hover over the company of Reynald Ringot. Priscilla contacts the manager every day. The tone changes. “He was crying on the phone, telling me he was going to shoot himself. Sometimes he insulted me too. At this time, Isabelle, the mother of little Chloe, receives a phone call from Virginie, Reynald’s wife. Several months have passed and she still has not received her chapel. “She tells me that I would never have it because she used the money to pay for funeral directors training. “

Priscilla, cheated client, collects testimonials

Priscilla, a client swindled by Reynald Ringot, needs this trial, postponed to September 14, “to move forward”. She gathered as many testimonies and documents as possible. LP/Sarah Alcalay

The liquidation is pronounced in June 2016. In the agency of the liquidator, the families understand that they will never see their money again. Even less the expected marble. “I couldn’t believe it,” breathes Priscilla. She filed a complaint in January. A wise policeman advises him to “keep everything”. Quotes, screenshots and letters to the parquet floor of Boulogne-sur-Mer swell the cover of a red filing cabinet.

Reassembled, Priscilla’s brother writes a vitriolic message on Facebook against Reynald Ringot. He collects about fifty testimonies. Buyers discover stelae – “the same one I ordered,” says Vincent – for sale on Le Bon Coin. Priscilla then begins a tour in Calaisis. She calls people cheated by Ringot, toque among the most reluctant, helps each other to write their report to the prosecution. “We couldn’t stop there! “

At the end of 2016, Reynald Ringot left the region and settled in Mayenne with his wife and four children. New tenants are occupying his old gray house in Les Attaques. “Good riddance,” says a local resident while gardening. He was a horrible neighbor. We have seen unhappy customers and ushers disembark several times. “

PODCAST. These ex-employees of the funeral directors who want to break the omerta: the underside of our investigation

“I left to preserve my children,” says Reynald Ringot, by phone. I was receiving death threats. I still get some. The former boss says he has found work in the funeral home. As an employee this time. “I think about what happened every day. I put myself in their shoes and I understand them. I am human. He says he was the victim of a plot by one of his competitors. “Everything I told the customer, my supplier told me. I have all the evidence. I made mistakes but there are things I am accused of which are wrong. “

On May 20, six years after the events, everyone was invited to the Boulogne-sur-Mer court. Some families, who are discussing today on a Messenger group, had taken time off to attend the hearing. “We saw the list of complainants. There were thirty-seven, we couldn’t believe it! says Priscilla. He owes us nearly 90,000 euros. Alas, Reynald Ringot did not come. He changed lawyers a few days earlier, and she requested a postponement to prepare her defense. The trial will normally take place on September 14. Ringot assures us that he “will be there”. “I have the proof, I will assume. Priscilla waits for him firmly. “We don’t care about the money. We need this trial to move forward. “