Thursday, 19 Apr 2018
World

Lionnet trial in London: the accused describes a dominant and unstable co-accused

Ouissem Medouni denied Monday that he had caused the death of au pair Sophie Lionnet, French like him, describing before the British justice a tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend and co-accused of murder Sabrina Kouider, a dominant and unstable personality according to him. Did you cause the death of Sophie Lionnet? “No,” said the 40-year-old accused, who was interviewed by his lawyer Orlando Pownall in the criminal court at Old Bailey in London. The trial, which began on 19 March, had so far given the floor to the prosecution, who described the ordeal of the 21-year-old girl from Troyes (south-east of Paris) during the twenty months preceding his death. Firefighters, alerted by neighbors intrigued by a large smoke and a “horrible” smell, had found on September 20, 2017 his charred body in the garden of the French couple in south-west London. His body had multiple fractures to the sternum, ribs and jaw but due to burns, the exact cause of death could not be determined. Speaking in English without an interpreter, with short sentences and an erased voice, the accused explained that he met Sabrina Kouider in 2001 at a carnival and obtained his phone number from a mutual friend. “She was very, very beautiful” and “I was a little shy,” he explained. Coming from a humble background – he grew up with his father plumber in the southern suburbs of Paris – Ouissem Medouni was studying economics in Paris while working part time. After graduation, he spent several years as a financial analyst in Paris and London before losing his job. Soon, Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider began a relationship that lasted until their arrest, but interspersed with several ruptures, because of love affairs of his companion, he explained. She had two boys with two other men, including Mark Walton, Boyzone boyband’s Irish founder. – ‘I feel guilty’ – When asked who dominated their relationship, the accused replied “she”. According to him, she could have “ups and downs in a matter of seconds” and made several suicide attempts. “In recent years she shouted every morning for nothing”, accusing him particularly of adultery – unduly according to him. Despite his concerns about his mental health, he said he never told anyone about “protecting her” and preventing her from losing custody. He always came back to her: “I love him,” he explained, adding that it was still the case. Ouissem Medouni himself described himself as “generous, hard-working, dedicated and ambitious” and “never” violent towards his companion, who for a moment received housing benefits and which he also supported financially. The two defendants plead not guilty to the charge of murder. On the other hand, they pleaded guilty of obstructing justice for attempting to “get rid of” the body “by burning it”. According to the accused, Sabrina Kouider had developed an obsession from 2014 towards Mark Walton, whom she accused of pedophilia, sexual assault and harassment. In front of the investigators, she described Sophie Lionnet as a “wicked” girl who had plotted with him to drug and sexually abuse family members. “She had panic attacks, she talked about it all the time,” said Ouissem Medouni. The girl was the victim of a first assault in early July 2017. Sabrina “lost his temper and pulled his hair,” he detailed. He told her not to do it again. “I should have … bought her a ticket and sent her home (to France),” he continued. “It went crescendo after that. When I think back to this situation, I really blame myself. I could have avoided it. He also suspected another assault later that summer, when Sabrina came out angry from the children’s room where the victim was also. He described the latter as “shy” and “not very sociable”, preferring reading to outings. The hearing of Ouissem Medouni will continue Tuesday.

AFP

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