Couple found guilty of torturing and murdering their nanny

Couple found guilty of torturing and murdering their nanny

A chilling image shows gaunt-looking nanny Sophie Lionnet just days before she was murdered by a French couple, as the victim’s mother branded her killers ‘monsters’ who had ‘starved, tortured and broken’ her daughter.

French au pair Miss Lionnet was waterboarded and beaten to death at the Wimbledon home of Sabrina Kouider and her partner Ouissem Medouni after being put through brutal interrogations by the paranoid pair.

The couple were convicted of murder today after an often-disturbing trial at the Old Bailey heard how the killers became convinced their nanny was spying on them.

Speaking after the verdicts, Sophie’s mother Catherine Devallonne said: ‘These monsters repeatedly beat Sophie. They starved her, tortured her and broke her until she could no longer fight.

‘We have now been tortured ourselves, forced to listen to Sophie’s last moments, her sobs and her crying.’

Addressing Kouider directly, the furious mother said: ‘Sabrina. No amount of shaving will ever cleanse your soul. No one, no God will ever forgive you both for what you have done to our daughter. You will not be forgiven for the lies.’

Her statement was a reference to Kouider having taken shower and shaved her body after the murder, saying she needed to ‘clean her sin’.

A shocking image shows nanny Sophie Lionnet after she was starved and tortured by the couple she worked for. She was murdered two days after this picture was taken

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

The couple tried to dispose of Sophie’s body by burning it on a bonfire. A picture taken during the murder investigation shows the charred remains of the au pair’s glasses

The couple barbecued chicken in a bid to cover the smell as they burned Sophie’s body

The judge assured the victim’s parents that there was no truth in the allegations the couple had made against their daughter and she was in no way to blame. 

Sophie’s mother, Ms Devallonne, said today: ‘My heart is broken, shattered into a million pieces. Sophie’s loss will not be meaningless, lessons will be learned.’ 

The shocking trial has heard how Kouider was obsessed with her former lover, Boyzone founding member Mark Walton, and convinced herself the nanny had been hired by him to spy on her.

Miss Lionnet was completely innocent and had never met Mr Walton, but that did not stop Kouider making increasingly outlandish claims against the quiet 21-year-old, which turned into violent beatings.

The au pair did not have the money for the flight home to France and so became trapped in the couple’s terrifying cycle of recriminations and violence before she died during a beating last September.

Having killed her in the bath, the pair threw her on a bonfire in the garden of their home near Wimbledon, south-west London, as they barbecued chicken nearby.  

The victim’s mother Catherine Devallonne wept as she entered the Old Bailey today following a long and often disturbing murder trial

Sophie Lionnet was a shy au pair who became trapped in her killers’ violent, paranoid world

Kouider and Medouni blamed each other for the murder in a cut-throat defence but were convicted by an Old Bailey jury after a week of deliberations. 

Kouider, who had ranted at her former lover throughout the trial, cried and shook her head in the dock before the verdicts were returned. 

The self-proclaimed ‘fashion designer’ was found guilty unanimously and burst into hysterics, saying ‘no’ and shaking her head.

Medouni was convicted on a majority of 10-2. He wept quietly and stared at the floor as the verdicts were read out.

Sophie’s mother Catherine Devallonne had cried quietly to herself as she waited for the jury to come back.

Following the conclusion of the trial, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, told Sophie’s parents: ‘I am absolutely sure that there was no truth whatsoever in the allegations that were made against your daughter.’

Kouider carried on shrieking and shaking her head as the judge consoled the family. 

Sophie’s suitcase, emblazoned with French and British flags, was found stuffed in a shed

A picture of the patio where the couple tried to dispose of their nanny’s body

Miss Lionnet came to work for the couple after a friend of Kouider’s brother Djamal suggested she try out as their nanny.

In January 2016, a few days after her 20th birthday, she moved in permanently with the couple in London.

It was the first and only job she ever had and, even though she was paid just £50 a week, she was constantly criticised by Kouider for being ‘lazy’. 

Kouider was fixated with her ex-boyfriend Mr Walton and created a fantasy world casting Mr Walton as an evil villain who seduced Miss Lionnet with sex and promises of Hollywood stardom.

Banker Medouni became an ardent believer in Kouider’s twisted reality and they interrogated Miss Lionnet for hours to get to ‘the truth’.

The paranoia which led to Miss Lionnet’s murder sprang from Kouider’s obsession with her ex-boyfriend Mark Walton, who gave evidence at the trial

Sabrina Kouider and partner Ouissem Medouni have been convicted of killing their nanny

Jurors heard more than eight hours of recordings in which Miss Lionnet was slapped, likened to a Nazi collaborator and called ‘worse than a murderer’ by her tormentors. 

For over a month, Miss Lionnet was interrogated, beaten and threatened by the couple as she desperately tried to appease them with false confessions and apologies.

Sophie’s mother Catherine Devallonne begged Kouider over the phone to send her daughter home, but Kouider said she would not do so until she learned ‘the truth’ about Sophie and Mark Walton. 

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. 

In the 48 hours before she died, Sophie suffered fractures to her breast bone and five of her ribs that were inflicted with severe force.  

Kouider said Medouni was dunking Sophie in their bath around the time she died

The job as the couple’s nanny was Sophie’s first job and she didn’t have the money to get home

Interrogation transcripts show killer’s paranoid anger

Excerpts of transcripts of the interrogation show what Miss Lionnet was put through.

Kouider was heard shouting: ‘I will not leave you alone until you tell methe truth. Is this clear? Do you understand?

‘You will not go back to France until you’ve told me the truth!

‘I am going to spoil your life, as you have spoiled mine!’ 

She later said: ‘Whenever you come back to the house, I smell sex.’

She also screamed: ‘I hate lies. I hate, I hate, I hate lies, so stop telling lies and tell me the truth.

‘Go on! I am with you. I am on your side. Go on! Go on Sophie. Go on! Quickly!’

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. 

The precise cause of  her death may never be known.Pathologists believe she may have been drowned or suffered a blow to the head.

According to Kouider, Medouni tortured her in the bath, then demanded they have sex as she lay dead nearby. 

She told jurors: ‘He was putting her head under the water and sometimes he would put water on the towel in her mouth. It was getting really mad.’ 

For two days after she died, the couple kept the body in a suitcase in their shed, uncertain what to do.

But the couple’s attempts to cremate her body on the garden bonfire using nail polish remover as an accelerant meant that her corpse was too severely burnt for a precise cause to be established.

They were also about to set fire to a carrier bag full of Sophie’s written apologies, confessions and pleas for help when the fire brigade arrived.   

Images take by police show the chemicals the couple bought as they tried to cover their tracks

Before the trial, Medouni claimed Miss Lionnet died by accident after he punched her during an interrogation in the bath.

He offered to admit manslaughter but later retracted his confession, saying he made it to protect his wife, who has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder.

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

He said their ‘unhealthy, myopic, all-consuming and groundless’ obsession with Mr Walton had deprived them of reason and turned their nanny into ‘something less than human’.

The judge is expected to sentence the pair at the Old Bailey on June 26.

Chip shop owner who helped victim saw killer’s sickening tirade 

A takeaway owner has described getting ‘goosebumps all over’ when he witnessed Sabrina Kouider launch into a foul-mouthed tirade at her nanny.

Michael Croner befriended Sophie Lionnet and regularly give her food and a fizzy drink when she visited his fish and chip shop.

Kouider and Ouissem Medouni wanted to rent space from him for a French pancake stall, but he was put off after finding out what the fashion designer was like.

In an interview with ITV News, he said Miss Lionnet cried when she told him that she had been beaten.

Desperate Sophie Lionnet confided in a local chip shop owner about her ordeal

Mr Croner said: ‘I started to talk to her as that was the time she wasn’t with anyone, by herself.

‘A couple of times she looked very sad, there were tears in her eyes, so then I started to talk to her – but it was still very hard to get anything out from her.

‘One incident, she really started to cry here, she had tears falling down. Then I asked her ‘What’s going on?’ That was the time she said somebody had beat her, so then I knew something was there.’

Mr Croner said it was a ‘big shock’ to hear she had been hit, and h

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