Murder accused cried ‘what have I done?’, court told
Sabrina Kouider came up with a plan to dispose of nanny Sophie Lionnet’s body, her co-accused told the Old Bailey.
A fashion designer cried “what have I done?” after her nanny died in the bath, a court has heard.
Sabrina Kouider, 35, allegedly woke up partner Ouissem Medouni in the early hours of the morning after their French au pair stopped breathing.
Medouni, 40, told jurors he was “shocked” to find Sophie Lionnet in the bath wearing pink pyjamas with her eyes open.
He pulled her out of the water and tried to resuscitate her for an hour before concluding she was dead, the court heard.
Rather than alerting police, he put her body in a suitcase and Kouider came up with a plan to burn it in the garden behind a gazebo, Medouni said.
After the charred remains were discovered by firefighters, Medouni told jurors his partner had asked him to take the blame.
The financial analyst initially lied that Miss Lionnet died by accident as he tried to extract information from her because he “wanted to protect the family”, he said.
The 21-year-old au pair died on the night the couple filmed her confessing to outlandish claims involving Kouider’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Walton, the Old Bailey heard.
Describing events at the family home in Wimbledon, Medouni said: “Sabrina woke me up around 1.30am. She said Sophie was not breathing.
“She was saying, ‘what have I done, what have I done?’ I was shocked to see her like that.”
Medouni said he told her to call 999 but she did not.
On why he put the body into a suitcase, he said: “I was in a state of mind where I did not know what to do because it was too late to call the police.”
He described how Kouider came up with the plan to dispose of the body over the next two days.
“I said to her, ‘can you pinch me if this is real, what happened really happened?’
“I remember it was the next morning, she was lying on my bed and she said, ‘we will burn her’.
“I said, ‘what, are you crazy? That’s crazy. I will never do that, never’.”
I never, ever, ever slapped, beat a woman. I’m not violent Ouissem Medouni
Medouni said he suggested burying Miss Lionnet in the garden, but Kouider wanted to disguise a pyre behind a gazebo.
The defendant said Kouider ordered him to buy the tent from B&Q but he did not.
Meanwhile, she took a shower saying it was to “clean her sin”, jurors heard.
On September 20 last year, Kouider took Miss Lionnet’s body outside in the suitcase and they burned it near the house, the court heard.
Medouni said they cooked chicken on a barbecue nearby because of “the smell”.
When firefighters uncovered the charred remains, Medouni claimed it was the carcass of a sheep, which he told jurors was “stupid”.
He said he explained what happened because he wanted to “protect the family and myself”.
Orlando Pownall QC, defending, said: “Mr Medouni, you have said a number of harsh things about Ms Kouider.
“What are your present feelings for her?”
Medouni replied: “She destroyed my life. I have my part as well. I could have stopped her. I could have done things and Sophie would have been alive.
“So I hate myself for that, for letting the violence grow without calling the police or go to emergency services because I had many occasions to do that.”
Mr Pownall recalled an incident in court earlier this week when Kouider called Medouni a “murderer” from the dock.
Medouni denied the accusation, adding: “I never, ever, ever slapped, beat a woman. I’m not violent.”
The couple have admitted perverting the course of justice but deny murder.
Cross examining, Icah Peart QC accused Medouni of telling “lie after lie about Sabrina” and what happened at their Wimbledon Park Road home.
Kouider’s lawyer pointed out he could not even look at the woman in the dock he professed to love.
Medouni replied: “No, I think she is lying to you.”
He described himself as “a follower”, “a bit naive” and “too nice” but denied being “self centred”.
He said: “I don’t want to pay for something I didn’t do. I’m not an egoist.”
Medouni admitted he was “very pushy” when he and his partner interrogated Miss Lionnet on the day of her death.
He called her “putain” – French for a whore – but said it meant something like “ah shit”.
The defendant said he wanted to record her confession on tape to take to police as proof.
Kouider was a very powerful woman fuelled by energy and rage and had hit Miss Lionnet during their questioning, he said.
Mr Peart asserted Medouni, who lost his job at Societe Generale in 2012, had used her for contacts and a “convenient pied a terre in London”.
Medouni replied: “I knew her when she started in a funfair selling sweets so I’m not the kind of guy who will go with a woman because she knows people.”
The barrister claimed he “refused to take no for an answer” during his courtship and even hung around outside her work.
Medouni was the 19-year-old Kouider’s first sexual partner and afterwards boasted about it with his friends in front of her, it was alleged.
Medouni denied it, adding he never slapped her during the relationship.