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Boyzone founder Mark Walton gives evidence at French nanny murder trial

A founder member of Boyzone embroiled in the murder case of his ex-girlfriend’s French nanny today told jurors she accused him of being a paedophile on Facebookand installed cameras to spy on nannies.

Mark Walton, 40, who is based in Los Angeles, was said to have been at the heart of his former partner’s campaign of torture against 21-year-old Sophie Lionnet.

Sabrina Kouider, 35, and Ouissem Medouni, 40, allegedly beat the au pair into a so-called confession that she was in league with Mr Walton to spy on the family.  

The couple had repeatedly accused Miss Lionnet of sleeping with Mr Walton before she was tortured and battered to death at their £900,000 home, the court heard.

The court was told they also demanded Miss Lionnet confess to a series of fictitious allegations, including that she conspired with Mr Walton to sexually abuse her family. 

Kouider also rang Mr Walton’s mother in Dublin, contacted his business partners and created a fake Facebook page accusing him of being a ‘paedophile’, he said. 

French nanny Sophie Lionnet

Mark Walton (left), a founding member of Boyzone, arrives at the Old Bailey in London today ahead of giving evidence in the case over the death of French nanny Sophie Lionnet (right)

Jurors were told during their two-year relationship there were between three and four different nannies working for Kouider, who sacked them for stealing and being abusive. 

Mr Walton said Koudir was ‘obsessively jealous’ and had installed cameras in the house to catch out various nannies she then sacked after accusing them of stealing and being abusive.

Kouider also accused Mr Walton of eating during Ramadan when he took a tablet for a headache, after spying on him with a hidden camera, it was said. 

Mr Walton, originally from Donaghmede, Dublin, Ireland, founded Boyzone while at school with Shane Lynch and later recruited Louis Walsh as manager.

But he was ousted as lead singer and went on to become involved with Irish girl group B*witched, and has since gone on to be a judge on Vietnam’s Pop Idol.

Mr Walton met Kouider in 2011 at a NatWest bank in Notting Hill, West London, where they ‘hit it off quickly’, the Old Bailey was told.

He said: ‘I mean, I was in love, she was my life then. To be honest I asked the bank manager who Sabrina was. I said she was very pretty and he said she said the same thing about you.

‘It was a turbulent relationship, the most turbulent relationship I had ever been in, but you know when you’ve got the love eyes you just hope to look past these things and help make someone become more relaxed.

‘She would go from kind of what I loved about her, soft spoken, French accent to someone who could go very angry, very loud, she just wouldn’t care where we were, she would get angry over something so trivial.’ 

Ouissem Medouni (left) and Sabrina Kouider (right) allegedly tortured and killed Miss Lionnet

Ouissem Medouni (left) and Sabrina Kouider (right) allegedly tortured and killed Miss Lionnet

‘I heard Sophie screaming’: Witness tells court he heard Sophie Lionnet being tortured the night she died

A witness told the court how he heard the defendants torturing Sophie Lionnet in the bathroom the night she died.

The witness, who was in the Wimbledon house but cannot be named for legal reasons, said he heard Ms Lionnet screaming from the bathroom with ‘lots of splashing of water’ and saw liquid seeping under the door.

This was followed by the defendants saying ‘breathe’, it was said.

He said in a police interview: ‘I heard an argument. I heard their voices coming from the bathroom. I heard lots of splashing in the water.

‘I could hear mostly Sabrina and Ouissem, but mostly I could hear Sophie because she was screaming.

‘It sounded like she was trying to get out of the bath but they wouldn’t let her out. She was being pushed under the water and they were not letting her out.

‘There was screaming all through the night until morning.

‘I knew it was Sophie because because I saw her ring outside the bath, near the tap. I think it was from her boyfriend.’

The next morning when he asked Kouider why they were ‘drowning’ Sophie, her answer was that Sophie ‘didn’t give me like a real answer’.

Kouider added they were not letting her out of the bath until she had told them the truth, the court heard.

He added: ‘I heard Sophie and Sabrina talking, then Sabrina told me she buried a phone underground and stole a real diamond.

‘Maybe there was evidence on the phone and she didn’t want anyone to find it so she buried it.

‘I heard Sophie screaming. Sabrina and Ouissem kept asking her why she wouldn’t give a proper answer.

‘I asked why they were drowning her and she said she wouldn’t give me a real answer.’

The witness also said he saw Kouider push and slap Ms Lionnet around three separate times ‘because of what she did’.

He added: ‘She punched her and she fell on the bed and she got up and she slapped her and she fell on the floor.

He said: ‘She (Sabrina) was shouting and said to go and hit her if I wanted.’

Richard Horwell QC, prosecuting, asked Mr Walton: ‘Did there come a time when you helped Sabrina financially?’

‘Absolutely,’ said Mr Walton, adding that five to six weeks after meeting her he gave her money.

Mr Walton moved in with Kouider in Bayswater after a year of knowing her, and there were several nannies at the property who were fired by Kouider, the court heard.

He said: ‘It was different reasons, accused of stealing to being interested in me or being abusive.’

Asked if any of the nannies ‘survived any significant period of employment’ while he was with Kouider, Mr Walton said: ‘We didn’t really have one that was around for a very long time to be honest.’

On two occasions, Kouider ran out into the street and shouted that Mr Walton had no money, the court heard.

‘She said, you know, Mr Boyzone has got no money,’ Mr Walton summarised.

Mr Walton confirmed this happened twice in public, once after a shopping trip to Oxford Circus shouting ‘Mr Boyzone has no money’.

Asked if he was broke, Mr Walton said he had ‘never been broke’ but his industry has highs and lows. 

Kouider even went to police over allegations Mr Walton mistreated their cat, even though they did not have one, it was said.

He also insisted he take a drug test after she flew into a rage accusing him of taking heroin.

Mr Walton said: ‘She started screaming, I knew I hadn’t done anything and I could prove it.

‘I said get any doctor you want, I’ll take a drug test.

‘I would say she was obsessively jealous. I had my moments but I was not excessively jealous, just normal.

‘On one occasion I walked in the apartment with muddy shoes and she took off a few hours later – that was the reason.

‘I was emotionally broken so I guess at the time I did mean that I still loved her.

‘She would shout if I disagreed with her. She is a very intelligent woman but she has a calculating streak.’

Kouider, 35, has been described as 'abusive', 'aggressive' and 'violent' during the trial

Kouider denies murdering the nanny

Kouider, 35, has been described as ‘abusive’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘violent’ during the trial

Two years into their relationship Kouider disappeared without warning, but Mr Walton continued to pay for her, sending her up to a few thousand pounds a month, the court heard.

Kouider sporadically wept in the dock as Mr Walton, who stopped sending her money in February 2014, gave evidence.

Asked if he had any direct contact with Kouider after he stopped paying her rent, Mr Walton replied: ‘No.’

Mr Walton said the first he had heard of Miss Lionnet and Medouni was from police on September 21 last year, the day after the body was found.

Mr Horwell asked: ‘Have you ever been party to a plan or a plot to drug the people in the Wimbledon flat and whilst unconscious sexually abuse the occupants of 164 Wimbledon Park Road, including taking semen from Ouissem Medouni?’

‘Absolutely not,’ said Mr Walton.

During Ramadan 2012 Kouider accused Mr Walton of breaking fast and lying to her because she had set up cameras throughout their home and saw him eating a tablet, the court heard.

Medouni’s defence barrister Orlando Pownall QC said: ‘During Ramadan she accused you of eating and called you a liar and in fact all you had eaten was a tablet because you hadn’t been well.’ 

Medouni (left) and Kouider (right) are seen at the Old Bailey in a sketch drawn on March 19

Medouni (left) and Kouider (right) are seen at the Old Bailey in a sketch drawn on March 19

‘I had a migraine,’ said Mr Walton.

The Recorder of London, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, asked if Kouider told Mr Walton why she put the cameras in, and he responded: ‘To my knowledge it was because of the nannies.’

Asked if he was overbearing and controlling in their relationship Mr Walton said: ‘Absolutely not. I had no control.’

Asked about jealousy, Mr Walton responded: ‘I had my moments but I wasn’t excessively jealous.’

Kouider accused Mr Walton of being a drug addict when he came home ill, and she demanded he take a drug test at a private clinic with a doctor of her choosing.

He told the court: ‘It was suggested I was on heroin. We went to a private clinic so Sabrina would know I didn’t know the person. I basically came over with a migraine.’

The test came back clear, the court heard.

In July 2014, five months after Mr Walton ‘woke up’ and stopped paying her rent, Kouider took out a non-molestation order against him, the court heard. 

Kouider alleged Miss Lionnet had been recruited to spy on her by her former boyfriend Mr Walton (pictured today) in exchange for £18,000 and the promise of "fame"

Kouider alleged Miss Lionnet had been recruited to spy on her by her former boyfriend Mr Walton (pictured today) in exchange for £18,000 and the promise of ‘fame’

Mr Walton insisted he wasn’t even allowed to know the location of the Wimbledon property that he was paying for, where Miss Lionnet’s body was eventually discovered.

Kouider also accused Mr Walton of hacking her email address and phone, to which Mr Walton replied: ‘I’m not even good with computers’.

At the start of his cross examination, Mr Pownall said: ‘I am not going to suggest for one moment that any of the allegations made by your former girlfriend are correct.’

Mr Walton told the court he created Boyzone in 1993 and was a member for a year.

Miss Lionnet’s burnt body was found on a bonfire in the garden of Kouider and Medouni’s property in Wimbledon, on September 20 last year.

In her police interview on 21 September, Kouider claimed Miss Lionnet had cooperated with Mr Walton to abuse her and her family so she could become a movie star and act in films with Tom Cruise.

Kouider said: ‘I was shocked, I couldn’t believe, I was just like wow, you played this game, you have been such an innocent girl, a bit lost but you are not innocent, you are bad, you are evil, you are a monster.

‘I was just surprised, I was shocked but I was more shocked, like I said, it made me feel like she is evil, she is bad, she is not honest person. 

The Old Bailey has heard Miss Lionnet was killed and her body thrown on to a bonfire in the couple's garden at their home on this road (pictured) in Wimbledon, South West London

The Old Bailey has heard Miss Lionnet was killed and her body thrown on to a bonfire in the couple’s garden at their home on this road (pictured) in Wimbledon, South West London

‘And you you told people you could do movies with Tom Cruise? You do this because of fame?

‘I was more upset about him because him, he is worse than anything in this world and he can control a lot of people because of his money.’

Kouider and Medouni beat and tortured the nanny in their Wimbledon home before burning her body on a bonfire while grilling chicken on a barbecue, jurors heard.

The couple recorded eight and a half hours of their ‘brutal and oppressive inquisition’ where they demanded Miss Lionnet confess to sleeping and collaborating with Mr Walton, the court heard.

In one recording played to the court, Kouider said: ‘I am not upset with you I am upset with him so tell me, tell me and nothing will happen to you.’

Miss Lionnet, from Troyes, north-east France, suffered fractures to her sternum, four ribs and her jawbone.

Her charred body was discovered at the house after a neighbour became concerned about the fire and called 999. She had moved to the UK in 2016 to improve her English.

Kouider was seen shouting and screaming at Miss Lionnet, and accused the young Frenchwoman of stealing a diamond pendant and plotting against her, the court heard.

Medouni and Kouider, both of Wimbledon, both deny murder and admit perverting the course of justice by burning the body.

The trial continues. 

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