Friday 20 July 2018

Boyzone star 'left broken' by murder-accused ex, jury told

Boyzone founding member Mark Walton
Boyzone founding member Mark Walton

Emily Pennick

A founding member of Boyzone has told a jury of the alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of his "manipulative" ex-girlfriend who is accused of murdering her French nanny.

Mark Walton, who left Boyzone shortly after their infamous appearance on 'The Late Late Show' in 1993, said fashion designer Sabrina Kouider could become "quite scary" in seconds.

He was giving evidence at the Old Bailey in London in the trial of Ms Kouider.

The 35-year-old mother and her partner Ouissem Medouni (40) are accused of murdering au pair Sophie Lionnet and throwing her body on a bonfire at their home in Wimbledon.

The couple had allegedly tortured the 21-year-old into "confessing" to being in league with Mr Walton in connection with drugs and abuse at the household.

But Mr Walton said the first he knew of Ms Lionnet was when murder squad detectives contacted him in September last year.

A sketch by court artist Elizabeth Cook from 2017 of Ouissem Medouni (40, left) and his partner Sabrina Kouider (34). Photo: PA
A sketch by court artist Elizabeth Cook from 2017 of Ouissem Medouni (40, left) and his partner Sabrina Kouider (34). Photo: PA

He said Ms Kouider was "abusive" and "exhibited a manipulative and controlling nature" with a "calculating streak".

He had previously described her as a "really gentle, sweet, loving" person who could become "quite scary" in seconds.

He told jurors: "Sabrina shared some stories from her past. I guess knowing that, I felt it brought us closer together at times, but it was turbulent, probably the most turbulent relationship I had ever been in.

"She would go from softly spoken French accent then she would flip, get very angry, very loud and just not care where we were. She would just go crazy over something trivial."

Victim Sophie Lionnet. Photo: PA
Victim Sophie Lionnet. Photo: PA

Mr Walton, who is originally from Donaghmede in Dublin, formed Boyzone with Shane Lynch. After leaving the band he found success with Fifth Avenue and more recently has been a judge on 'Pop Idol Vietnam'.

He said he met Ms Kouider in a bank in Notting Hill in 2011 and they hit it off straight away.

He said: "I was in love. She was my life then, so..."

He gave her thousands of pounds a month, paid for nannies and even covered £12,800 (€14,600) in rent after she had left him, the court heard.

Ms Kouider fired her nannies, accusing them of stealing or being attracted to her "friendly" boyfriend, the court heard.

Mr Walton said they lived together for two years in Queensway, London, before she disappeared and they split up.

Referring to outlandish accusations levelled at him by Ms Kouider, prosecutor Richard Horwell QC said: "Have you ever been party to a plot to drug the people in the Wimbledon flat and whilst unconscious sexually abuse the occupants?"

Mr Walton said: "Absolutely not."

While they were together, Ms Kouider would fly into a rage, even shouting in Oxford Street "the Boyzone's broken - he's got no money" as they shopped together, the court was told.

In 2012, police had been called a number of times over various accusations, including that he had photos of another woman on his phone.

After Mr Walton stopped paying her rent in 2014, she took out a non-molestation order claiming harassment, the court heard.

She also rang his mother in Dublin, contacted his business partners and created a fake Facebook page accusing him of being a "paedophile", he said.

Mr Walton said: "I was broken, emotionally broken but I loved her."

Icah Peart QC, for Ms Kouider, suggested Mr Walton was a very wealthy man, even being described as a billionaire in one media report. Mr Walton denied he was that rich, but added: "I'm doing OK."

Ms Kouider and Mr Medouni have admitted perverting the course of justice but deny murder. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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