Tuesday 19 November 2019

Burned body of 'au pair' found in garden as man and woman charged with murder in UK

The victim was named locally as Sophie Lionnet, 21, a nanny from Troyes, a town in north-eastern France
The victim was named locally as Sophie Lionnet, 21, a nanny from Troyes, a town in north-eastern France

Harry Yorke and Nicola Hurley

The badly burned body of an “au pair” has been found in the garden of a London home worth almost €1,000,000 and a couple have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The couple, believed to be French nationals, were detained by police on Wednesday night after the remains of a person, who has not been identified, were found in a garden on Wimbledon Park Road, Wandsworth.

Described by police as a 40-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman, the pair are believed to live at the address with the woman's two children, who have been taken into care.

Last night the au pair was named locally as Sophie Lionnet, 21, a French woman from Troyes, a town in north-eastern France.

Sabrina Quider (34) who is believed to have been arrested in connection with the incident
Sabrina Quider (34) who is believed to have been arrested in connection with the incident

According to neighbours, Ms Lionnet, who had been living in London for 14 months in order to learn English, had not been seen since “late August”.

A friend added that she had been “unhappy” for some time, and that she had been due to fly back home to France on Monday but never arrived.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the woman arrested in connection with the suspected murder, Sabrina Quider, is the former partner of a music mogul who now lives in the US. ​

Ms Quider, a designer and makeup artist, is believed to have separated from the musician, the father of one of her two children, and has been dating a man who neighbours described as French Algerian.

Ms Quider, who is believed to have moved to the area four years ago, and her boyfriend, have been taken to separate south London police stations for questioning.

Forensic officers were yesterday seen removing a body from the garden after emergency services were called following reports of a fire.

Scotland Yard said last night that a murder investigation had been launched.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Sunny Patel, who runs a newsagents opposite the couple’s home, said that he had seen smoke rising from their garden yesterday, but had thought nothing of it.

He said that the couple had a French-speaking au pair who looked after their two children, adding that she had not been seen for several weeks.

“I have not seen the nanny since late August. She used to come in with the kids twice a day to buy them sweets,” he said. “She looked about 13 but was actually in her early 20s. A very polite, pleasant girl. She was French. The family was also French. The nanny has lived here for at least 20 months, she was here last Christmas.

“Last night I saw plumes of smoke coming from the garden – lots of smoke, not much flames – but just thought it was a garden fire. Then … we were told that the man was arrested and then his wife.”

Another woman who passed the property on Wednesday evening said a “weird smell” was coming from the fire, adding that she thought the family were holding a “weird barbecue”.

A neighbour living above the couple’s apartment said they had called their landlord on Tuesday because there was a “bad smell”. “We thought maybe a gas leak,” they said. “The landlord looked around our flat but couldn’t find anything.”

Another neighbour said that her children had watched from their bedroom window on Wednesday evening as a man started a fire and began burning items in the garden.

“They [my children] were in the bedroom and told me he had started a big fire and was brushing wood into it. The man saw them and started making grunting sounds at them like he was drunk. I often spoke to the nanny to say hello and to throw the children’s ball back. They were always up late and a bit wild.”


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