Wednesday 12 December 2018

Couple killed nanny over Boyzone star obsession

'Monstrous' pair built sick fantasy around mogul who founded Irish pop band - and murdered shy Sophie after torturing her

Sophie Lionnet was murdered by Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Sophie Lionnet was murdered by Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni have been found guilty of murdering their French nanny Sophie Lionnet. PA Wire / Met handout

Emily Pennick

A couple who killed their French nanny over a bizarre obsession with an ex-Boyzone pop star were branded "monsters" as they were convicted of murder.

Sabrina Kouider (35) and Ouissem Medouni (40) built a warped fantasy around Irish music mogul Mark Walton and accused Sophie Lionnet of being in league with him.

Having beaten, imprisoned and tortured the shy 21-year-old to death at their home, they threw the body on a bonfire, the Old Bailey was told.

Fashion designer Kouider collapsed in tears and her banker husband Medouni hung his head as a jury found them guilty of murder after nearly 30 hours of deliberations.

Ms Lionnet's mother, Catherine Devallonne, also wept as Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said the defendants' claims about her daughter contained "no truth whatsoever".

Ms Devallonne said: "Those monsters repeatedly beat Sophie. They starved, tortured and broke her until she could no longer fight.

The patio where the body was found at the house in Wimbledon, south-west London. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA
The patio where the body was found at the house in Wimbledon, south-west London. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA
Boyzone founder Mark Walton

"They took away her dignity and finally her life painfully ebbed away. No god will ever forgive you both for what you have done to our daughter."

The victim's father, Patrick Lionnet, said: "Sabrina and Ouissem have not only stolen the life of my daughter so brutally and without remorse, they have also stolen mine."

He said what the couple did to his shy and reserved daughter was "beyond comprehension" and "unforgivable".

Ms Lionnet's parents had travelled from France to see the disturbing evidence as it unfolded.

Kouider was fixated with her ex-boyfriend, Mr Walton, and Medouni bought into the fantasy in what has been described outside court as a "folie a deux".

Over five years, Kouider reported the wealthy musician to police more than 30 times and received a caution for branding him a paedophile on a fake Facebook profile. She also accused him of sexually abusing a cat, using black magic and hiring a helicopter to spy on her.

Giving evidence, Los Angeles-based Mr Walton said he had been "in love" with Kouider but she would "flip" and go "crazy" for no reason. Another ex-boyfriend, Anthony Francois, described her as a "lunatic".

The mother-of-two went on to claim Mr Walton had seduced Ms Lionnet with sex and promises of Hollywood stardom. She and her on-off husband Medouni interrogated Ms Lionnet for hours to get to "the truth".

Sophie Lionnet. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA
Sophie Lionnet. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA

Jurors heard more than eight hours of recordings in which Ms Lionnet was slapped and called "worse than a murderer".

Kouider, who claimed to know influential people including US President Donald Trump, threatened to have her locked up and even marched her to a police station.

In her final days, Ms Lionnet was hit with an electrical cable and beaten so badly she had five broken ribs and a cracked breast bone.

In a filmed "confession", the emaciated and broken young woman admitted she had drugged Medouni so Mr Walton could sexually assault him. Within hours, she was dead, having been tortured with water in the bath.

Afterwards, the defendants tried to get away with murder by burning her body in the garden of their flat, near Wimbledon, south-west London.

Ouissem Medouni. Photo: Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS
Ouissem Medouni. Photo: Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS

When firefighters were alerted by neighbours to pungent-smelling smoke in September last year, Medouni tried to pass off the charred remains as a sheep, while Kouider claimed to police that Ms Lionnet had run off with Mr Walton in an attempt to frame him for her disappearance.

The defendants later admitted disposing of Ms Lionnet's body but denied her murder, blaming each other for her death. According to Kouider, Medouni killed her in the bath then demanded they have sex.

Before the trial, Medouni claimed Ms Lionnet died by accident after he punched her during the interrogation.

Sabrina Kouider reported ex-boyfriend Mark Walton to police more than 30 times in five years, saying he used black magic. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA
Sabrina Kouider reported ex-boyfriend Mark Walton to police more than 30 times in five years, saying he used black magic. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA

He offered to admit manslaughter but later retracted his confession, saying he made it to protect his wife.

Prosecutor Richard Horwell QC told jurors that neither were prepared to admit the truth - that they killed her out of "revenge and punishment".

Judge Hilliard will sentence the pair at the Old Bailey on June 26.

Irish Independent

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