Cherif Doua cut a suave and sophisticated figure in the dock as he took the panel of three judges and 12 jurors through the story of his life until the murder of Valerie Brocklesby and the attempted murder of his estranged wife Jayne.
Wearing fashionable ovalrimmed spectacles, a black polo neck jumper tucked into grey trousers and a black jacket, the 42-year-old looked like a man who had spent the past five years on the French Riviera rather than on remand in prison.
His hair neat but greying, he stood with his hands behind his back and leaned slightly into the microphone in the glass-panelled dock to reply to questions from the president of the bench, Cecile Simon.
Doua, whom the local press say has "le look de playboy", did little to detract from the description, admitting he was a serial womaniser with a chequered past.
After revealing he had cheated on his first wife, Brigitte Parly, including with a Finnish exchange student while the couple lived in Malaga, southern Spain, he was asked about the reasons for his repeated infidelities.
"It's just my temperament," he told the court. "I'm attracted to women. It was just physical."
An avowed teetotaller, with an aversion to drugs and tobacco, he also sought to play down the prosecution image of him as a calm and calculating killer who attacked his second mother-in-law and wife in a jealous rage.
Although his first wife, Brigitte, whom he met at a local disco in his late teens, was often "verbally violent" and had problems with drugs and alcohol, he was never violent towards her either before or after their split in 1998.
He was a "calm and reflective" person who did not generally get angry. During his time in prison, he said he had also developed an interest in philosophy, particularly in the ideas of Kant and Henri Bergson.
The son of a French-speaking Algerian who fought for France in Indo-China, Doua was born in the northern French town of Beauvais in 1962.
He was the last of six children and after an unremarkable school career became a mechanic, then working variously in a local hospital and a foundry before setting up on his own making business cards.
He then embarked on another business venture, establishing a takeaway pizza business in Beauvais.
But the enterprise stalled, ending up with Doua being convicted of fraud and sentenced to 12 months in prison with six months suspended.
Doua had by this time left for Spain with Brigitte and their three children Julien, Charlotte and Clementine, picking up part-time work in the restoration and bric-a-brac business before getting involved in the import and export of luxury cars.
After meeting Jayne Brocklesby in Spain, he returned to France several years later to serve his sentence.
Asked by one of his lawyers, Djamila Berriah, about the fraud conviction, he blamed it on his inexperience and youth.
"If you were to ask me what my failings were at the time, I would say pride and arrogance," he said, before also claiming he had been badly advised about proper accounting procedures.
He had also been affected by the murder in 1988 of Brigitte's mother, Pilar Leon, a well-known local figure in Beauvais. Doua was questioned about her death but was not charged.