Dominique Cottrez
Dominique Cottrez will now face trial for the murder of eight of her own children.Facebook

A French nurse who killed eight of her own newborn babies will face trial in one of France's worst ever infanticide cases.

Dominique Cottrez, 50, is said to have strangled her children and hid their bodies in bin liners between 1989 and 2000 because she did not want to use contraception.

Public prosecutor Eric Vaillant told an initial court hearing in 2010 how Cottrez, who was obese, had managed to hide her pregnancies within her 20-stone frame.

"She managed to hide the fact she was pregnant because she was very overweight," he said. "She told investigators that when she became aware she was pregnant she decided she did not want any more children but also did not want to see a doctor for contraception. She has admitted giving birth in secret and then suffocating the babies and disposing of the bodies."

She confessed to the murders in 2010, but tried to evade prosecution by claiming the crimes all took place more than ten years earlier. Under French law a prosecution cannot be brought after an extended lapse of time.

Defence lawyer Marie-Helene Carlier told a court this week: "My client readily admits the horror of what she has done but believes that legally the time for punishment has passed."

However, a court has now ruled that Cottrez must stand trial for the wilful killing of eight minors under 15 between 1987 and 2000, since the concealment of the bodies of the babies made it impossible to know a crime had been committed within the time limit.

The grisly discoveries of the babies bodies was made four years ago when the new owners of a house in the village of Villiers-sur-Tertre, northern France, uncovered human bones in their garden while digging a pond.

They alerted police, who found the remains of two children which had been there since the Cottrez family moved out in 1991.

After tracking Dominique and husband Pierre-Marie Cottrez to another house just half a mile away, they found the bodies of six more children buried in the garden in black bin liners.

Husband Pierre-Marie Cottrez, 48, has denied having any knowledge of the babies being born or killed.

The couple have two surviving daughters, Virginie, 22, and Emeline, 23, who have one son each. Emeline described her mother as a 'doting granny' to her child.

The couple's eldest daughter expressed her sense of shock after the crimes were discovered saying: "It's incomprehensible that our mother could have done this. She was a good, loving grandmother, and we were happy to leave our children with her."

There have been previous cases of infanticide in France. In March 2010, French mother Celine Lesage, 38, was jailed for 15 years, after admitting to killing six of her new-born babies and hiding the bodies in her cellar.

In 2009, Veronique Courjault was sentenced to eight years in jail after admitting to killing three of her own babies, burning one corpse and hiding the others in the family freezer.

Dominique will stand trial in France next year.