The mother of teenage terrorist Abdel Malik Petitjean refuses to accept her son carried out the brutal murder of an 85-year-old priest in a Normandy church, saying that she "did not give birth to the devil".

The last that 45-year-old Yamina Petitjean had heard from her son was on Monday 25 July, the day before the attack, when he said he was travelling to visit a cousin. He later sent her a text saying: "Do not worry. All is well. I love you."

But speaking from her flat in Aix-les-Bains, she claimed that he was not a jihadi.

She said: "He's not at all the monster that people want us to believe," and when she was asked about his death, she began screaming: "They shot my son, they shot my son", the Mail Online reported.

A neighbour told the news outlet that she was in denial. "She does not want to believe that her son did this," said the man who only identified himself as Raymond outside the 10-storey-high block of flats where the jihadist lived.

"She cannot believe the boy she raised would do such a crime. I don't think she even believes her son is dead," he added.

It emerged that Petitjean was on a watch list after he had unsuccessfully tried to enter Syria. Four days before the murder of Father Jacques Hammel in the village of Saint-Etienne Du Vouvray, police had been informed by the intelligence services about a planned atrocity.

Police found notes scribbled in Arabic in the French national's bedroom along with a French copy of the Quran. Petitjean, 19, who turned to Islam, lived at the rented flat with Yamina and his sister, 17.

Petitjean did go to the mosque in the town but neighours said they did not consider him particularly religious.

Abdel Malik Petitjean
Abdel Malik Petitjean, 19, one the two men who stormed into a church on 26 July in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass and murdered a priest at the altarAFP/ Getty Images