Frenchwoman screamed at murdered au pair, London court hears

LONDON (AFP) - A woman accused of murdering her nanny and burning the body afterwards used to scream at her and was typically aggressive, a London court heard Friday (March 23).

Sabrina Kouider, 35, and her 40-year-old partner Ouissem Medouni, are standing trial at England's Old Bailey central criminal court for the murder of Sophie Lionnet. All three are French.

Au pair Lionnet, 21, told her mother that if she had the money for a ticket, she would return home to France, the court heard.

Steve Brown, who knew the accused couple, told the court that he saw Kouider "screaming" at Lionnet.

One day at the couple's London home in 2016, Brown said: "She started screaming at Sophie. I asked her, 'would you stop screaming at a child like that?'

"She told me that Sophie was lazy, that she didn't cook, that she didn't do what she was supposed to do." Lionnet was hired in January 2016 to look after two children. Her charred remains were discovered in the house's back garden on September 20 that year.

Kouider was aggressive and violent, Brown said, while Lionnet was scared.

He said he brought Lionnet some food, "to make sure Sophie had something to eat", because "she looked scared and she looked hungry".

Local shopkeeper Jaymani Patel said he would see Lionnet several times a week, and she seemed "very shy".

 

Meanwhile he had argued with Kouider over telephone cards she had bought.

"She tended to be difficult" and "aggressive verbally", he told the court.

Prosecutors earlier told the court that the couple had subjected Lionnet to "a campaign of intimidation, torture and violence" which culminated in her death.

When Lionnet's remains were found in the garden, Medouni told the fire brigade he had burned a sheep.

Kouider said Lionnet had disappeared some days before.

Fashion designer Kouider alleged Lionnet had been recruited to spy on her by her former boyfriend Mark Walton, a founding member of Irish pop band Boyzone, in exchange for money and the promise of "fame".

Walton is due in court on Monday to give his testimony.

Kouider and Medouni have admitted perverting the course of justice by attempting to burn the body, but deny murder.

The case continues.