Au pair murder: Couple found guilty

Ouissem Medouni (L) and Sabrina Kouider
Ouissem Medouni (L) and Sabrina Kouider Copyright Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS
By Alice Tidey
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Sophie Lionnet, 21, was tortured and killed by the couple who accused her of plotting against them with Boyzone member Mark Walton.

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A couple in London have been found guilty of murdering their French au pair and burning her body in the garden.

The court heard how French Algerians Sabrina Kouider, 35, and Ouissem Medouni, 40, beat, starved and tortured their live-in nanny Sophie Lionnet, 21.

They accused her of having an affair with Kouider’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Walton — a founding member of boy band Boyzone — who they believed had come into the house to drug and sexually abuse the occupants.

Prosecutor Richard Horwell told jurors at the Old Bailey that the couple's "unhealthy, myopic, all-consuming and groundless" obsession with Walton had deprived them of reason and turned their nanny into "something less than human."

They tortured her by dunking her head into water, starving her, beating her and hitting her with an electrical cable. They also filmed a "confession" with an emaciated Lionnet hours before her death.

Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS
Lionnet, two days before she was murdered (L). Undated picture of Lionnet (R).Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS

The couple had previously admitted to burning her body but had denied murder charges. Lionnet’s charred body was found in their garden in south-west London on 20 September.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard said the couple’s accusations towards Lionnet have “no truth whatsoever.”

Walton, who travelled from L.A. to testify at the trial, said he had never met Lionnet. He also described his 2-year relationship with Kouider as "turbulent" at times and said that she would often "flip" and "go crazy."

Jurors also heard how Kouider received a caution for branding Walton a paedophile on a fake Facebook profile and that she reported him to police more than 30 times.

"Only Kouider and Medouni know exactly how they killed Sophie but the prosecution was able to prove that she died as a result of purposeful and sustained violence, and not by accident," prosecutor Aisling Hosein said.

In a statement read by a police officer to the court, Lionnet’s mother, Catherine Devallone, told the couple that "no god will forgive you."

"You are equally evil as one another," she added.

Her father, Patrick Lionnet, said the couple had "not only stolen the life of my daughter so brutally and without remorse, they have also stolen mine."

Kouider and Medouni will be sentenced on June 26.

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