French Au-Pair Killed in London: The Alleged Murderers in Court

General News
Flowers laid after a march on 8 October 2017 in London in tribute to Sophie Lionnet, a French au pair found dead in September

This Monday opens the trial of the employers of Sophie Lionnet, a 21-year-old au-pair from Troyes, whose body was found burned in London.

The trial of the alleged murderers of Sophie Lionnet, a young French au-pair whose charred body was found at the end of September in the garden of her employers in London , opens Monday in the criminal court of the Old Bailey, in the United Kingdom .

Ouissem Medouni, 40, and Sabrina Kouider, 35, deny killing the girl, aged 21 at the time, from Troyes (Aube). Ouissem Medouni pled guilty to obstruction of justice for trying to “get rid” of the body “by burning”, according to the terms used for this charge.

The body, still in the UK

The two French men have been detained since the British police discovered, September 20, 2017, the corpse of the girl. Authorities were alerted by neighbors, who were intrigued by thick smoke from the couple’s home in Southfields, in southwestern London.

The trial is to determine when and how Sophie Lionnet was killed. His body has still not been repatriated to France, counter-expertises can be ordered during the four weeks that must last the debates.

Her parents will be able to attend thanks to special financial assistance provided by the French state to pay for their transport and accommodation on site, their lawyer, Frank Berton, told AFP. “It’s rare enough to be stressed,” he added.

Difficulties of au pairs

The death of Sophie Lionnet caused great excitement among au pairs working in the United Kingdom, and more broadly in part of the French community.

The case had also highlighted the difficulties, between isolation and exploitation, sometimes encountered by au pairs, often very young and inexperienced, who work and live in families abroad.

“Sophie’s story has touched me a lot,” Glwadys Beya, a 24-year-old au pair living in London, told AFP.

“It’s really sad and if we do not talk about it, it’s a situation that is likely to recur,” she said.

She wanted to go back to France

Victoria, 21, an au pair in Warlingham, near London, said she was hoping that more precise legal recognition will guide the work of au pairs in the future.

On the 8th October, a silent march in honour of Sophie Lionnet had gathered about thirty people, members of her family and friends, in the neighbourhood where she lived, in London.

Her cousin, Melanie Lionnet, told AFP that the girl was “tired” and wanted to “go back to France”.

“She told us that her employers had not yet paid her, that once they had paid her, she would return. (…) Each time they added time, an apology “.

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