French couple convicted of murdering 21-year-old nanny in London, burning her body

Sabrina Kouider (left) and Ouissem Medouni were described at the Old Bailey court as having spun a web of lies to justify the torture and murder of their young nanny.

LONDON (REUTERS) - A French couple were found guilty on Thursday (May 24) of murdering their nanny and burning her body in their back garden in London after what police said was months of mistreatment, threats and physical abuse that left her a virtual prisoner.

Sabrina Kouider, 35, and Ouissem Medouni, 40, were described at the Old Bailey court as having spun a web of lies to justify the torture and murder last year of their young nanny Sophie Lionnet, 21, from Troyes in eastern France.

Her ordeal culminated in a series of "interrogations"conducted by the duo over a 12-day period in a bid to force her to confess to various false crimes they had accused her of.

"We will never know the full extent of the horrors Sophie had to endure ..," said Detective Inspector Domenica Catino, after the verdict.

He added in a statement: "I cannot imagine what thoughts were going through Sophie's mind whilst being held a prisoner in those 12 days leading up to her death but from the harrowing images obtained it showed a scared, broken and emaciated young girl who probably knew she was shortly facing death."

Ms Lionnet had first got the job after meeting Kouider's brother in France, and initially things appeared to go well.

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

Other local nannies observed that Ms Lionnet seemed to think it was normal that she was barely paid, and she dropped hints over time that she was both scared and hungry.

A fish and chip shop owner that Ms Lionnet had visited recalled how she had grabbed food as if starving and revealed in a fearful fashion how she was beaten.

Medouni was caught when firefighters were called to the couple's house after a neighbour became concerned about the excessive smoke coming from the bonfire at their house in Wandsworth, southwest London.

When confronted, Medouni claimed he was cooking sheep but the firefighters contacted police.

Medouni and Kouder, who had previously admitted perverting the course of justice by way of preventing a lawful burial of a body, will be sentenced on June 26.

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