Au pair murder: Couple found guilty

Elias Hubbard
May 26, 2018

When the crew pushed into the garden of the $1.2 million residence, a bonfire was belching flames.

Thomas Hunt, one of the first firefighters on the scene, soon realised a body had been burnt when he spotted a nose and fingers in the remnants of the fire, as well as clothes and jewellery.

The trial learned that Kouider and Medouni interrogated their nanny for hours to extract some sort of "confession" to confirm their "perverted suspicions" about Mr Walton.

According to the Telegraph, the judge in the case noted the crime was a remarkably rare instance of "folie a deux" - or dual psychosis.

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.

Kouider, 35, and Medouni, 40, have a long and rocky history as a couple.

Born in Algeria, Kouider grew up in Paris, where aged 18, she met Medouni, a fellow French Algerian five years her senior, at a fun fair. The older man pursued the young girl and they fell into a relationship.

Medouni claimed Kouider had got into the suitcase first to make sure the nanny's body could be squeezed into it.

She was big-hearted and loved working with children but was no match for her violent and oppressive employers.

Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider.

But Kouider, a mother of two, was convinced her ex-boyfriend was colluding with her nanny and swept Medouni up into the fantasy.

Walton had shouldered the ludicrous slurs and responded with "integrity and honesty", the prosecution said, willingly travelling from LA to give evidence. "She was my life then". "She could not stand seeing others suffering and it breaks my heart to know that she was abused to the end of her life".

The couple fitted cameras throughout the flat believing Walton was breaking into the house.

Kouider collapsed in tears as the jury foreman delivered the verdicts, while Medouni hung his head.

After splitting up after two years, Kouider reported him to police more than 30 times and received a caution for branding him a paedophile on a fake Facebook profile.

Faced with such torment, why did the 21-year-old not abandon the couple's home on Wimbledon Park Road? Sunil Patel, the owner of a newsstand near the couple's home, told the BBC Kouider brought Walton up at his store.

"She was obsessed with this guy. she said "have you seen this person", and she showed me this photo of a blond-haired man on her phone". "Kind, gentle. She loved everyone, she loved making people happy", Lionnet's aunt said. Ms Devallonne told how her placid, shy, and naive daughter had left home for the "prospect of fulfilling her dreams".

"I said 'why didn't your nanny say anything about it?', and she said the nanny was complicit".

A witness in the house, who can not be identified for legal reasons, placed both defendants in the bathroom with Miss Lionnet on the night of her death.

She would sometimes also visit his fish and chip restaurant alone. "I asked why, and she said she had dropped the butter". Medouni, a former banker, became an ardent believer of Kouider's twisted reality, the jury heard.

In the weeks leading up to her death in September previous year, the couple beat, starved and tortured the shy au pair by dunking her head into water until she confessed.

Police believe at one point in one of the interrogations in September, Lionnet was killed in the bathroom.

A post-mortem showed that Ms Lionnet suffered a fractured jawbone in the hours before her death, as well as bruising and fractures to her sternum and ribs between 36 hours and three days prior.

Kouider and Medouni admitted perverting the course of justice and denied but were convicted of murder. Both, however, admitted to plotting to get rid of the remains in a bonfire in the garden.

The couple were barbecuing chicken in their backyard while they burned the body of Ms Lionnet nearby.

However as the months went on, it became apparent to those who knew her that Sophie had been inveigled into a uniquely weird and oppressive household ruled by Kouider's violent mood swings, police said.

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

The victim's mother called the guilty pair "monsters" in a statement read to court.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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