Sophie Lionnet, a French au pair who was 21 years old, had come to London to improve her English. But Ouissem Medouni and his partner Sabrina Kouider were cruel to her. They tortured and killed her.
Then, before they were caught, they tried to get rid of her body by setting it on fire in their back yard.
Sophie Lionnet was born in northern Algeria, but when she was a child, her family moved to the French town of Troyes. On January 7, 1996, she was born.
Sophie moved to the UK so she could learn English better.
Miss Lionnet started working for the couple when a friend of Kouider’s brother recommended her for the nanny job. A few days after her 20th birthday in January 2016, she moved in with the couple permanently in Southfields, south London.
This was her first and only job, and even though she only made £50 a week, Kouider was always yelling at her and calling her “lazy.”
In an attempt to control and manipulate the young nanny, Kouider and Medouni made false and hurtful accusations against her.
At one point, Kouider made up a story that the French woman stole a diamond pendant and planned to hurt her.
Unhealthy Obsession That Led To Tragedy
Mark Walton used to work with Kouider. Mark Walton was one of the first people to join Boyzone, an Irish boy band. Walton broke up with her a long time ago, but she still couldn’t stop thinking about him.
Kouider thought Lionnet was a spy hired by Walton to keep an eye on her and her family. She was so sure of this that she used all kinds of torture to get Lionnet to tell her the truth.
Together, they subjected Miss Lionnet to a protracted interrogation in an attempt to extract “the truth.”
Miss Lionnet was subjected to a month of interrogation, physical assault, and threats from the couple while she desperately attempted to appease them with fabricated confessions and apologies.
Catherine Devallonne pleaded with Kouider for her daughter’s safe return, but Kouider refused to release her until she discovered the “truth” about Sophie and Mark Walton.
The frail and traumatized young woman admitted in a recorded confession that she drugged Medouni so that Mr. Walton could sexually assault him. Tragically, she passed away a few hours after her confession was coerced.
Kouider asserted that Medouni tortured Miss Lionnet in the bathtub and then demanded sex from her while she lay unconscious.
In her testimony to the jury, she stated, “He would submerge her head in water and sometimes place a wet towel in her mouth.”
After her death on September 17, 2017, the couple kept her body in a suitcase for two days in their shed, unsure of what to do.
They resorted to cremation to dispose of her body, and they barbecued chicken nearby to mask the odor.
The fire department arrived as the couple prepared to burn a carrier bag containing Sophie’s written apologies, confessions, and pleas for assistance.
The severe burns on Miss Lionnet’s body make it difficult to determine the exact cause of her death. However, postmortem examinations revealed that she had fractured her sternum, four ribs, and jawbone in the days preceding her death.
Trial and Sentencing
Ouissem Medouni and his partner Sabrina Kouider were found guilty of the murder of Sophie Lionnet.
During the trial, the couple placed blame for the violence against their au pair on each other. Richard Howell QC, of the Old Bailey court in London, described the “odd couple” as a “truly toxic combination” in his summary of the prosecution’s case.
For the murder of Sophie Lionnet, both Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider were sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years.