Boyzone founder ‘never heard’ of victim

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width lead”> Image copyright PA

Image caption The court heard Sophie Lionnet’s body showed signs of “significant violence”

A former member of Boyzone embroiled in the murder case of his ex-girlfriend’s French nanny told jurors he “never, ever” had any contact with the victim.

Mark Walton was allegedly a focal point of his former partner’s campaign of torture against Sophie Lionnet.

Sabrina Kouider, 35, and Ouissem Medouni, 40, beat the 21-year-old au pair into a confession that she was in league with Mr Walton to spy on the family, the Old Bailey heard.

They deny killing her hours later.

Ms Lionnet’s body was thrown on to a bonfire in their garden in Southfields, south-west London, the court heard.

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<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Ryan Hooper

Image caption Sophie Lionnet’s body was found after neighbours raised concerns about a fire in a back garden

Giving evidence, Mr Walton, who is based in Los Angeles, told jurors his ex-partner, Ms Kouider, would “flip” during their two-year turbulent relationship.

He would support the fashion designer with thousands of pounds every month, even paying her rent long after she left him, he told the court.

On their relationship, he said: “It was turbulent, probably the most turbulent relationship I had ever been in.

“She would go from a softly spoken French accent, then she would flip, get very angry, very loud and just not care where we were.

“She would just go crazy over something trivial.”

The first he heard about Miss Lionnet was on 21 September last year when he was contacted by murder detectives, he said.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Julia Quenzler for BBC

Image caption Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider deny murder

Referring to accusations levelled at him by Ms Kouider, prosecutor Richard Horwell QC said: “Have you ever been party to a plot to drug the people in the Wimbledon flat and, whilst unconscious, sexually abuse the occupants?”

Mr Walton said: “Absolutely not.”

He said the last time he was in the UK was when he went to a meeting in October 2015 and he told jurors he had “never, ever” heard of Ms Lionnet or ever been in contact with her.

Mr Walton told jurors he “created” Boyzone in 1993 and was in the band for about a year before going on to be involved in Fifth Avenue.

Who is Mark Walton?

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright PA

Image caption (L-R) Shane, Mikey, Ronan, Stephen and Keith from the Irish band Boyzone, pictured after Mark Walton had left

1993: Auditions take place for a new Irish boyband. Mark Walton, along with Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch and Richie Rock form Boyzone and are later managed by Louis Walsh

1994: Mark Walton and Richie Rock leave the band

2000s: After Boyzone, Mr Walton sets up a band called Fifth Avenue, and also gets involved with the management of Irish girlband B*Witched

2015: Mr Walton appears as a judge on Vietnam’s Pop Idol

2017: Mr Walton named during the murder case of his ex-girlfriend’s French nanny

By the time he met Ms Kouider in 2011 he was doing well financially in the music business, he said.

Mr Walton said he paid for Ms Kouider’s nannies but she would fire them over accusations of stealing and of being interested in him, the court heard.

“I actually challenged Sabrina on this. I did not believe her,” he told the court.

Ms Kouider and Mr Medouni have admitted perverting the course of justice but deny murder.

The trial continues.

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