Sophie Lionnet: Couple 'murdered French nanny then burned her body' in London home

The victim has been named locally as Sophie Lionnet: Facebook
The victim has been named locally as Sophie Lionnet: Facebook

A French nanny was imprisoned, beaten, killed and thrown on a bonfire by her employers who accused her of being “in league” with the mother’s former pop star boyfriend, a court heard.

Sophie Lionnet was starved, mistreated and violently assaulted after she went to live with French couple Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni at their home in London, the Old Bailey heard.

The 21-year-old was allegedly confronted with “outlandish” allegations that she was in cahoots with original Boyzone band member Mark Walton - the father to one of Ms Koudier’s two children.

Ms Lionnet, who was originally from Troyes in northeastern France, was kept as a prisoner in the couple’s home in Wimbledon, south west London, and prevented from returning to her family, the court heard.

Prosecutor Richard Horwell QC told jurors: “Sophie was trapped in a domestic nightmare,” adding that her life in Wimbledon was “bizarre and oppressive”.

Ms Kouider, 35, and Mr Medouni, 40, have denied her murder in September last year.

The court heard “malevolent” Ms Kouider accused Ms Lionnet of working with her former partner Mr Walton, and in rambling complaints claimed he controlled her through “black magic”.

She had also falsely labelled Mr Walton a paedophile using a fake Facebook account in 2015, the court heard.

But jurors were told the allegations against Ms Lionnet and the former Boyzone star were “quite untrue”.

Mr Horwell said: “At the centre of this trial is the fact that these inventions or beliefs, whatever they may have been, concerning Mark Walton formed a central part of the reason why the defendants murdered Sophie.”

The barrister told jurors Ms Lionnet had been “naive and particularly vulnerable” when she went to work for the defendants and was an “easy target” for abuse.

In notes, she described being called a “whore, a bitch and a slut” for no reason.

Ms Kouider would shout and scream at Ms Lionnet and accused her of stealing a diamond pendant.

Mr Horwell told jurors the false allegations were “contagious” and Mr Medouni was “beguiled” into adopting the same delusions.

Following her death, more than eight hours of “harrowing” recordings were recovered from the defendants’ mobile phones of Ms Lionnet being interrogated.

They depicted “a young emaciated, frightened and helpless woman anxious to say and do whatever her two tormentors wanted her to say”, the lawyer said.

Ms Lionnet was intimidated, threatened with imprisonment, rape and violence to exact some sort of “confession”, possibly to later embarrass Mr Walton, jurors were told.

The prosecutor said: “The last days and hours of Sophie’s life must have been truly wretched.

“She was subjected, at times, to a brutal and oppressive inquisition and to significant violence”.

She suffered fractures to her sternum, ribs and jawbone, but the exact cause of her death was unknown due to attempts to dispose of her body.

“The defendants burnt her body in the garden of their home in the hope that no one would ever discover her remains.

“Their plan was to dispose of Sophie’s body and to explain her disappearance by inventing a story that she had left their employment under something of a cloud.

“But their wicked plan was frustrated by the combination of a neighbour and inquisitive fire fighters,” Mr Horwell said

The victim’s parents sat in the well of the court as the case was opened. The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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