folie à mur- deux

A rare case of shared psy­chosis led to the sen­sa­tional mur­der of an in­no­cent Au Pa ir: why didn’t So­phie Lion­net es­cape the clutches of her crazed em­ploy­ers?

Real Crime - - Contents - Words Tanita Matthews

Why didn’t au pair So­phie Lion­net es­cape the clutches of her crazy em­ploy­ees be­fore it was too late?

On the af­ter­noon of 20 Septem­ber 2017, emer­gency ser­vices were called to a south­west London home after re­ceiv­ing a con­cerned call from a neigh­bour re­port­ing a vast plume of smoke and a foul odour emit­ting from a nearby gar­den. At the Wim­ble­don Park Road prop­erty, fire­fight­ers found Ouis­sem Me­douni pok­ing at chicken thighs on a small bar­be­cue on the pa­tio, while a charred mass burned on a bon­fire nearby. When asked what he was burn­ing, Me­douni claimed he was “cook­ing a sheep”, but after the blaze was put out, some­thing in the ashes caught the fire­man’s eye: first it was some cloth­ing, then a glint of jew­ellery, then a nose, and then what ap­peared to be fin­gers. Asked why he was burn­ing a body, Me­douni sim­ply an­swered, “It’s a sheep”, his eyes cast down. Fire­fight­ers no­ticed Me­douni’s de­meanour shift as he watched them eye­ing up the sus­pi­cious char­coaled lump be­side him.

Their dis­be­lief at his an­swer was ob­vi­ous: “Bol­locks” the fire­fighter ex­claimed. Po­lice were called, and they ar­rested Me­douni and his part­ner Sab­rina Kouider on sus­pi­cion

of mur­der. As sus­pected, it wasn’t a sheep Me­douni was cre­mat­ing. What de­tec­tives found to be caus­ing the foul odour was the body of 21- year- old French na­tional So­phie Lion­net, a nanny hired by the cou­ple 18 months ear­lier.

As Bri­tish and French tabloids de­voured the sen­sa­tional de­tails of the slay­ing, the chill­ing ac­count of what oc­curred inside the South­fields prop­erty formed a bizarre tapestry of a mur­der plot hatched by Kouider and Me­douni, which was dubbed “stranger than fic­tion”.

Femme Fa­tale

The re­mains in the cou­ple’s gar­den were so badly burned, in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ini­tially un­able to de­ter­mine the age or gen­der of the vic­tim.

Al­though it was Me­douni who had been at the crime scene, in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ea­ger to find out what his part­ner knew

– per­haps she could pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion about

Me­douni’s crime.

Inside London’s

Metropoli­tan Po­lice in­ter­ro­ga­tion rooms, Kouider, un­aware that po­lice else­where would soon learn the iden­tity of the body in their back gar­den, tried to con­vince in­ves­ti­ga­tors that her au pair of 18 months had re­cently run off with Kouider’s for­mer boyfriend, a found­ing mem­ber of Ir­ish boy band Boy­zone, who was now liv­ing in the US and work­ing as a mu­sic mogul. Mes­sages in Kouider’s phone from barely a week be­fore showed her dis­cussing with a friend how the au pair had gone back to France. Some­thing didn’t add up.

When pre­sented with the ev­i­dence that So­phie wasn’t hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away across the English Chan­nel and had in fact been the cen­ter­piece of a macabre bon­fire burn­ing just me­tres away from their back door, the nar­ra­tive to Kouider’s de­fence changed. Kouider now blamed Me­douni for her death. How­ever, inside a sep­a­rate in­ter­ro­ga­tion room, Me­douni was point­ing the fin­ger at Kouider. The bald­ing, mid­dle- aged fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst re­vealed that Kouider had be­come ob­sessed with the idea that their nanny was con­spir­ing with her ex- boyfriend against her, and that he was led to be­lieve that the Troyes na­tive they had hired back in 2016 was a spy for her for­mer lover. What’s more, Me­douni told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the shy au pair had been se­duced into gath­er­ing damn­ing in­for­ma­tion on Kouider, and was also sent to drug and sex­u­ally as­sault young girls in the cou­ple’s fam­ily home.

It was an odd set of ac­cu­sa­tions, and when in­ves­ti­ga­tors looked into the cou­ple they slowly built a pic­ture of the dys­func­tional, volatile and po­ten­tially deadly re­la­tion­ship – and dis­cov­ered some clues as to why a job look­ing after their chil­dren went so wrong for So­phie.

Im­ages of Kouider show a beau­ti­ful young woman with soft skin, an even sweeter smile and lus­cious locks of cas­cad­ing ebony hair. She was a fash­ion de­signer, some­thing she clearly had a pas­sion for based on her taste in fine clothes, rich fab­rics and bold colours that hung from her lithe frame. How­ever, her good looks were de­ceiv­ing. De­tails of Kouider’s life al­luded to psy­cho­log­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity.

She had been born in Al­ge­ria but had moved to Paris with her mother as a young girl. It was there, in 2001, while work­ing on a sweet stall at the age of 18 that she first caught the eye of fel­low French Al­ge­rian ‘ Sam’ Me­douni. Al­though he was five years her se­nior, he keenly pur­sued the beau­ti­ful young woman. It was the be­gin­ning of a tur­bu­lent and bizarre 17- year, on- off re­la­tion­ship.

De­spite the fact that an Is­lamic mar­riage cer­tifi­cate cer­ti­fied their union as hus­band and wife, they out­wardly lacked the typ­i­cal re­la­tion­ship dy­nam­ics that a hus­band and wife would share. Pros­e­cu­tors would later sum­marise that the re­la­tion­ship was one of ‘ con­ve­nience’ for Kouider, who as well as be­ing jeal­ous, highly tem­per­a­men­tal and vi­o­lent, only dated Me­douni un­til some­thing bet­ter came along – he was sim­ply a meal ticket for her when she was lonely, in need or had ex­hausted the good­will of her lovers. When she strayed to other men, as she did of­ten, Me­douni fever­ishly waited for her to re­turn. On the flip- side, Me­douni was deemed as ‘ punch­ing above his weight’ when it came to the beau­ti­ful but ul­ti­mately deadly Kouider, but it ap­peared that he des­per­ately loved her. Did this des­per­a­tion to hold onto her mean he had been sucked in by her delu­sions, and had ul­ti­mately killed So­phie out of loy­alty to Kouider?

When Kouider an­nounced that she was mov­ing to

London to pur­sue a ca­reer as a nanny, Me­douni fol­lowed. In Eng­land’s cap­i­tal, she be­came part of a selling scheme for a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany while he even­tu­ally earned a de­gree in eco­nom­ics and found a job with a French bank.

In 2011, while vis­it­ing a Not­ting Hill bank, she crossed paths with charis­matic Ir­ish­man Mark Wal­ton, a found­ing mem­ber of the pop­u­lar 1990s Ir­ish group Boy­zone. Mark in­stantly fell in love with Kouider. How­ever, it wasn’t long be­fore the out­wardly “gen­tle, sweet, lov­ing” Kouider be­came, as he de­scribed, “crazy”. He re­called how Kouider had an un­sta­ble and un­pre­dictable streak to her char­ac­ter that would ap­pear in an in­stant. Her tem­per was trig­gered at the slight­est provo­ca­tion, and within sec­onds she could be­come “quite scary”. Dur­ing their two- year re­la­tion­ship, Kouider had been “abu­sive” and “ex­hib­ited a ma­nip­u­la­tive and con­trol­ling na­ture” with a “cal­cu­lat­ing streak”, ac­cord­ing to Mark, who split with Kouider in 2013. On 16 July 2012, she re­ported a “crazy ar­gu­ment” to po­lice and ac­cused him of cheat­ing. They re­sumed their re­la­tion­ship days later, but by

Me­douni told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the shy au pair had been se­duced into gath­er­ing damn­ing in­for­ma­tion on Kouider

the end of Oc­to­ber, after they had split up again, she claimed he had been vi­o­lent three times dur­ing their two- year re­la­tion­ship. None of the al­le­ga­tions against him were ever found to be true. Mark ad­mit­ted he knew of her un­sta­ble men­tal health, an is­sue that had pre­vi­ously re­sulted in at least one at­tempted sui­cide.

Al­though their re­la­tion­ship was over, Mark still had some resid­ual feel­ings to­wards Kouider, and as an act of kind­ness con­tin­ued to pay her rent, gave her an al­lowance and paid for nan­nies for her chil­dren. But Kouider con­tin­ued her slan­der­ous cam­paign against her ex. In to­tal, Kouider re­ported him to the po­lice as many as 30 times be­tween

2012 and 2017. After they split up, she com­plained about 60 voice­mails he had left her, but none of them con­tained threat­en­ing lan­guage. A few months later, in March 2014, she claimed she had been “hacked” by her ex- part­ner, but “nasty” emails in­stead were apolo­gies and full of sweet, lov­ing words. The fol­low­ing month, Kouider was found “very ag­i­tated, kick­ing and scream­ing” out­side her Wim­ble­don Park Road home. She claimed her for­mer lover had been “us­ing black magic to con­trol her and there was noth­ing she could do about it”.

No charges against Mark were filed, al­though Kouider re­peat­edly com­plained to po­lice that they were not tak­ing her al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously. In July she told po­lice he had hacked her Face­book ac­count and breached a non- mo­lesta­tion or­der. Claims against him in Septem­ber 2015 in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions that he was a pae­dophile. Kouider was given a warn­ing by po­lice about the false al­le­ga­tions she was mak­ing against her for­mer part­ner. In March 2016 she re­ported he had sex­u­ally mo­lested her cat. She didn’t have a cat.

This wasn’t just a case of one toxic re­la­tion­ship – an­other of Kouider’s ex- boyfriends de­scribed her as a “lu­natic, fickle and un­sta­ble”. Ev­ery time her re­la­tion­ships ceased, Me­douni was there to slot back into the pic­ture. De­scrib­ing the cou­ple in the af­ter­math of their crime, one neigh­bour re­port­edly said, “They seemed quite nor­mal, but they al­ways do.”

Stranger Than Fic­tion

It was in 2015 that So­phie had first been in­tro­duced to her em­ploy­ers and, ul­ti­mately, her killers. Kouider’s brother, who knew So­phie back in her home­town in France where she lived with her fam­ily, had in­tro­duced her to the pair and put her for­ward as a po­ten­tial nanny for the cou­ple, who were seek­ing an au pair for their three- year- old daugh­ter and sixyear- old son. In Jan­uary 2016, only a few days after her 20th birth­day, So­phie had flown to the neigh­bour­ing coun­try’s cap­i­tal to live with Me­douni and Kouider.

For So­phie, tak­ing care of the pair’s chil­dren was the first job she had ever taken on. The cou­ple paid her £ 50 a week and pro­vided her with a room in their home. So­phie’s em­ploy­ment with the French na­tion­als had be­gun with­out a hitch, but after work­ing for the pair for a few months, res­i­dents in the neigh­bor­hood be­gan to no­tice So­phie’s at­ti­tude change, and she be­came in­creas­ingly with­drawn.

Be­hind closed doors she was crit­i­cised for be­ing ‘ lazy’. Al­ready a shy in­di­vid­ual who was still learn­ing English, she be­came al­most timid as the tem­per­a­ment of her em­ploy­ers changed for the worse. Speak­ing to Bri­tish tabloid

The Daily Mail after her mur­der, one of So­phie’s friends de­scribed how the young woman “found it very dif­fi­cult” liv­ing in London. Over a se­ries of months peo­ple saw her less and less, and when they did they re­alised how skinny she was be­com­ing. A fish and chip shop owner found it odd that she com­mented how she was not be­ing fed by the cou­ple and seemed to wolf down the fatty flakes of fish and potato she some­times or­dered. This was only weeks be­fore she was dis­cov­ered dead. She ex­pressed to peo­ple that she wanted to re­turn to

France, even ask­ing her mother to send her £ 40 so she could af­ford the fare back across the chan­nel.

But she never made it home.

What was never re­alised by any of the neigh­bours un­til after So­phie’s death was that Kouider’s ob­ses­sion with her for­mer part­ner had be­gun to spi­ral out of con­trol once again. At some stage in 2017, Kouider had be­gun to suf­fer delu­sions that So­phie was con­spir­ing with her for­mer lover. Al­though her au pair had never met the man who lived thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away, this didn’t sat­isfy Kouider. Sharing her sus­pi­cions with Me­douni, he too be­came an ar­dent be­liever in Kouider’s delu­sions.

This shared be­lief in a delu­sion is what psy­chol­o­gists have come to know as ‘ folie à deux’, or ‘ mad­ness of two’. Coined in the 19th cen­tury by French psy­chi­a­trists Charles Lasègue and Jean- Pierre Fal­ret, it is now a recog­nised dis­or­der and a part of the DSM- 5 ( Di­ag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual of Men­tal Disor­ders Fifth Edi­tion).

To­gether, Me­douni and Kouider be­came ob­sessed with in­ter­ro­gat­ing So­phie, and con­fis­cated her iden­tity card, pass­port and suit­case. The cou­ple stopped pay­ing her and even stopped feed­ing her, sub­ject­ing her to bru­tal and de­mean­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tions over her ‘ spy’ sta­tus. Kouider’s ir­ra­tional behaviour re­fused to sub­side. Three months be­fore So­phie’s death, Mark’s fi­nan­cial sup­port for Kouider stopped, and she again launched a vi­cious at­tack against him. She marched So­phie down to Laven­der Hill Po­lice Sta­tion so that she could ‘ con­fess’ to plot­ting with her ex to shoot her fam­ily. In­stead So­phie told of­fi­cers the al­le­ga­tions were un­true and that she had never met the per­son Me­douni and Kouider were ac­cus­ing her of co- con­spir­ing with.

This in­ci­dent was only weeks be­fore So­phie’s charred re­mains were dis­cov­ered. Why didn’t she run? Young, in­ex­pe­ri­enced and in a strange coun­try, it seems as though

Over the months peo­ple saw her less and less, and when they did they re­alised how skinny she was be­com­ing

Re­sem­bling a pris­oner of war, So­phie qui­etly spoke to con­firm she con­spired with Kouider’s for­mer part­ner

So­phie was un­able to es­cape the clutches of her em­ploy­ers. One neigh­bour later tes­ti­fied that the au pair fled to her house when one in­ci­dent at the Wim­ble­don Park Road res­i­dence be­came par­tic­u­larly hos­tile. Kouider had stormed round to the house and de­manded that the young woman re­turn, fly­ing off the han­dle and scaring ev­ery­one in the house into sub­mis­sion. This glimpse at the dom­i­neer­ing power Kouider had over the young French­woman is per­haps why So­phie felt she could never es­cape.

The most damn­ing piece of ev­i­dence against the cou­ple came in video for­mat, filmed on 18 Septem­ber 2017. It shows an ema­ci­ated So­phie with her eyes cast down­ward, hands folded in her lap, which was cov­ered by a woollen blan­ket, at­tempt­ing to warm her frag­ile, skele­tal frame. The video filmed her ‘ con­fess­ing’ to the al­le­ga­tions made against her by her em­ploy­ers. Re­sem­bling a pris­oner of war, So­phie qui­etly spoke only to con­firm that she had been con­spir­ing with Kouider’s for­mer part­ner. It is clear that the fright­ened woman didn’t quite un­der­stand what she was con­fess­ing to, but went along with it per­haps in the hope that if she agreed then they would let her go. Within hours she was dead.

Charged with So­phie’s mur­der at London’s Old Bai­ley on 12 Jan­uary 2018, both Kouider and Me­douni pleaded not guilty. They ad­mit­ted to per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice by at­tempt­ing to “dis­pose of the body of So­phie Lion­net by burn­ing”. Each blamed So­phie’s death on the other. It would be down to a jury to de­cide who was ly­ing and who, if ei­ther, was telling the truth. Through­out their two- month trial, which com­menced in March, ju­rors were privy to ev­ery sick­en­ing de­tail about So­phie’s last few hours alive. They were shown a still im­age of So­phie just two days be­fore be­low- left So­phie’s body was so badly burned that a cause of death could not of­fi­cially be es­tab­lished. How­ever, po­lice sus­pect that So­phie was drowned in the bath­room of the cou­ple’s home be­fore her body was set alight in the back gar­den

be­low- right After lis­ten­ing to the hor­ri­fy­ing de­tails of her daugh­ter’s mur­der, So­phie’s mother Cather­ine De­val­lonne said that her killers had re­fused to see her worth and should be sentenced to death for the treat­ment they in­flicted on her she was found burn­ing at the prop­erty, taken from the ‘ con­fes­sional’ tape her em­ploy­ers said they had in­tended to serve to po­lice as ‘ ev­i­dence’ of the sab­o­tage she had plot­ted with Mark. With her hair tied back into a gen­tle braid, the au pair’s gaunt frame is ev­i­dence of the star­va­tion she had been sub­jected to. Her blank eyes were the re­sult of the lengthy men­tal and phys­i­cal tor­ture she had en­dured. She was just hours from death and just days from be­ing dis­cov­ered burn­ing in the back gar­den.

Eight hours of in­ter­ro­ga­tion be­tween So­phie, Me­douni and Kouider were recorded by the pair. The five- man and seven- woman panel lis­tened as the of­ten- in­co­her­ent and an­gry ram­blings of the cou­ple press So­phie for in­for­ma­tion about her at­tempt to in­fil­trate the cou­ple’s home and re­la­tion­ship. Afraid and barely able to com­pre­hend the ques­tions be­ing posed to her, So­phie only speaks a hand­ful of times, mostly to say “No”. She doesn’t un­der­stand why Me­douni and Kouider want her to con­fess, and maybe even what ex­actly it is she is sup­posed to be con­fess­ing to, but they threaten her, say­ing that she will be raped, trapped in Eng­land away from her fam­ily in France and beaten if she doesn’t com­ply. She still doesn’t un­der­stand ex­actly what she is sup­posed to be com­ply­ing with and who she is sup­posed to have con­spired with. She is tired, bro­ken and afraid – all she wants to do is leave. She doesn’t know she will never be al­lowed to go free.

“Dear So­phie”

Me­douni claimed that he had been asleep when So­phie was killed and that he had been wo­ken in the night by Kouider, who was panic- stricken hav­ing killed So­phie. It was a plau­si­ble ar­gu­ment, but on the stand a dis­traught Kouider blamed Me­douni for So­phie’s mur­der. In de­tail, she de­scribed how her part­ner had wa­ter- boarded So­phie in their bath­room and she had drowned. Once he had killed So­phie, Me­douni had be­come aroused, and as So­phie’s life­less body lay nearby he had forced him­self on Kouider and sat­is­fied him­self. He

then ad­justed him­self be­fore in­struct­ing her on what they would do next. “Ev­ery­thing I done, I did it for him” she cried. “He wanted to have sex with me. I’m even shocked to talk about it, it’s em­bar­rass­ing,” she told the court.

Un­der cross- ex­am­i­na­tion by Me­douni’s lawyer Or­lando Pow­nall, Kouider’s claims that Me­douni had sex with her were branded “non­sense” and a “fig­ment of your imag­i­na­tion”. Kouider replied, “It’s not my imag­i­na­tion, it’s the truth.” The lawyer said to Kouider, “You say Mr Me­douni had never shown any vi­o­lence to­wards her [ So­phie] prior to Septem­ber 18, and on that evening he was vi­o­lent.” He went on to chal­lenge her fur­ther: “His de­fence is al­most the mir­ror im­age of yours. He says you were the one that had been vi­o­lent and were vi­o­lent in the early hours of the 19th.” Kouider, how­ever, de­nied that she had been the vi­o­lent one, al­though she later ad­mit­ted she had whipped So­phie with an elec­tric cable. The vic­tim’s charred body, which was so badly burned that it could not show a clear cause of death, did re­veal that she had five bro­ken ribs and a cracked breast­bone from the beat­ings she was be­ing sub­jected to in the lead- up to her death.

When Me­douni’s lawyer pointed out her past of falsely ac­cus­ing her part­ners of wrong­do­ing, Kouider in­sisted she had “never made a false ac­cu­sa­tion” against any­one, but the lawyer con­tin­ued to point out, “You al­ways blame some­body else for your prob­lems.”

After clos­ing ar­gu­ments were de­liv­ered, ju­rors were in­structed to re­tire and dis­cuss their ver­dict, and the judge di­rected them that he would ac­cept a ma­jor­ity vote in this in­stance so long as at least 10 of the 12 mem­bers agreed. After weeks of de­lib­er­a­tions, the de­ci­sions had been fi­nalised. As a unan­i­mous guilty ver­dict against Kouider was de­liv­ered she cried hys­ter­i­cally, while Me­douni, con­victed on a ten to two ma­jor­ity, silently wept and stared down at the floor as the judge an­nounced that he too had been found guilty of mur­der. The judge com­mented that the case was a rare in­stance of “folie à deux” and that the pair had acted with­out mercy for the vic­tim. Be­fore hand­ing down a sen­tence, the judge lis­tened to the de­fen­dants’ lawyers and took into ac­count the psy­chi­atric con­di­tions of the cou­ple. Doc­tors con­cluded that Kouider was suf­fer­ing from men­tal disor­ders and ob­ses­sions, in­clud­ing de­pres­sion and bor­der­line per­son­al­ity dis­or­der.

In an at­tempt to demon­strate re­morse, Kouider stood in the court and ad­dressed So­phie’s fam­ily and the vic­tim her­self with a let­ter ti­tled, “Dear So­phie”. Kouider said,

“First of all I wish ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing So­phie, es­pe­cially her par­ents and fam­ily who are suf­fer­ing badly, to know how deeply sorry I am for what hap­pened to So­phie.” She went on to in­sist that, “We shared many good times to­gether as well as pains un­til things went ter­ri­bly wrong and it ended up in this hor­ren­dous tragedy. I think of you ev­ery day and I am shocked and sad that you are not part of this world any­more. It feels like a hor­ri­ble dream to me that I wish I could just wake up from. Ev­ery day I live with sad­ness and sor­row. I am suf­fer­ing ev­ery day think­ing of you and what hap­pened to you that dread­ful night. I only wish I could turn the clock back so that it never hap­pened and you would still be alive with us today.”

The pre­sid­ing judge, Ni­cholas Hil­liard, told the pair that they would serve at least 30 years of a life sen­tence. Kouider was or­dered to “re­turn im­me­di­ately to the hos­pi­tal” – namely the Brac­ton Cen­tre, near Dart­ford, Kent, where she had been held since she was charged with mur­der. The judge as­sured So­phie’s mother that there was no truth to the al­le­ga­tions made against her daugh­ter. Ad­dress­ing Me­douni and

Kouider, So­phie’s mother, who had sat lis­ten­ing to the fi­nal sobs and pleas of her daugh­ter through­out the trial, told the pair, “No god will ever for­give you both for what you have done to our daugh­ter.”

Lawyers act­ing on Kouider’s be­half plan to ap­peal against her sen­tence, claim­ing that it is too long for some­one with men­tal health is­sues to serve. Mean­while, de­bates con­tinue to ques­tion which of the two was the real ring­leader at the time of So­phie’s death, and the na­ture of a shared psy­chosis that drove them to kill an in­no­cent, vul­ner­a­ble young woman.

above Fire­fight­ers found Me­douni bar­be­cu­ing on the pa­tio after a neigh­bour called emer­gency ser­vices, con­cerned about the smoke and “weird smell” com­ing from the gar­den. So­phie’s body was be­ing burned just next to himabove- right Kouider made dozens of al­le­ga­tions against her fa­mous ex- boyfriend Mark Wal­ton, none of which were ever found to have any ba­sis for a charge to be filed against him. She in­sisted po­lice weren’t tak­ing her se­ri­ously enoughright Sab­rina Kouider ( left) and Ouis­sem Me­douni ( right) met in 2001 in Paris. Their re­la­tion­ship was volatile and tem­per­a­men­tal but Kouider’s delu­sions sparked a mur­der plot that would see them both con­victed

above So­phie’s charred body was barely iden­ti­fi­able. Only traces of her ex­is­tence still ex­isted in the fire, in­clud­ing her burnt spec­ta­cles

left At the age of 23, Me­douni ( right) met Kouider ( left) in Paris. She was five years his ju­nior. While he was smit­ten, she only saw him as a meal ticketbe­low- left As well as con­fis­cat­ing So­phie’s pass­port and iden­tity card, Kouider and Me­douni also stashed her suit­case in their shed in the hopes of re­mov­ing any trace of her after her deathbe­low- right A still im­age, taken from the ‘ con­fes­sional’ tape Kouider and Me­douni had made on 18 Septem­ber 2017, shows So­phie’s gaunt and frag­ile frame. Within hours she was dead

top- left Among ev­i­dence found in Me­douni and Kouider’s home, a drug test­ing kit was dis­cov­ered in the gar­den, al­lud­ing to the in­ten­sity of the in­ter­ro­ga­tions con­ducted by the pairtop- right One wit­ness tes­ti­fied dur­ing the trial that she heard So­phie scream­ing and splash­ing in the bath­room the morn­ing of her death, as Kouider and Me­douni told her to “breathe”above A bot­tle of pa­tio cleaner was dis­cov­ered in the vicin­ity of So­phie’s charred re­mains. Her killers had in­tended to cover their tracks and de­stroy any ev­i­dence of her ex­is­tence

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