UK News 'Midsomer' murderer jailed for life for bludgeoning Scots gran to death with a hammer
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A man who in a burglary gone wrong has been jailed for life.
The killing of the 55-year-old artist at Christmas time shocked the small village of Bosham in West Sussex - used as a location forMidsomer Murders.
She was found with extensive head injuries in the ground-floor bedroom of a luxury £1.6 million property where she was house-sitting.
The beloved mum sustained extensive head injuries caused by forces similar to a road crash, a court heard.
Cristian Sabou, previously of Dej, Romania, pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at Lewes Crownon Monday.
Romanian man jailed for life for 2013 murder of house-sitter
Valerie Graves was found bludgeoned to death at a £1.6m property in West Sussex.The killing of the 55-year-old artist at Christmas time shocked the small village of Bosham in West Sussex.
The 28-year-old Sabou appeared in the packed courtroom wearing a beige jumper, flanked by three security guards.
Speaking through an interpreter, he pleaded guilty to a charge of murder.
Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC told the court that Sabou had entered the house as a would-be burglar, expecting it to be empty.
He had worked odd jobs for the homeowners in the previous couple of months.
The court heard that he had been informed that a safe in the house contained a large amount of cash and ingots.
When he entered the home he found Ms Graves, and attacked her.
Sabou struck her with a hammer, causing horrific injuries to her head as she tried to defend herself.
Romanian man jailed for life for murder of grandmother Valerie Graves
A Romanian man has been jailed for life for murdering a 55-year-old grandmother while she was housesitting at a property in West Sussex. © Associated Press Cristian Sabou is escorted by an officer after a hearing to confirm his European Arrest Warrant Cristian Sabou, from the city of Dej, pleaded guilty to murdering artist Valerie Graves at a house in Bosham in December 2013.He was later handed his sentence at Lewes Crown Court, and will serve a minimum of 24 years in prison.
Mr Bennetts said: "There were extensive injuries to her head.
"The level of force used was extreme. Not dissimilar from the force experienced during road traffic collisions."
Ms Graves, who was a graduate of Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, had just moved down from Melrose in Scotland , with whom she spent Christmas before she was found dead on December 30.
The killing sparked one of the longest murder hunts in Sussex Police history, but it was not until July 2019 that Sabou was arrested in Romania and charged and extradited to the UK.
Mr Bennetts told the court that the breakthrough in the case arose when Sabou's partner saw him looking at his mobile phone and becoming agitated in July 2018.
He said: "She looked at the phone and there was a search result for the murder."
Opening the page, she found a picture of the hammer recovered by police and confirmed as the murder weapon.
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She recognised it as looking like the one Sabou had previously owned.
Police were contacted and Sabou was detained on a European Arrest Warrant.
He agreed to be extradited and arrived at Heathrow Airport at 9.35am on July 19 2019.
DNA from Sabou matched the samples taken from the murder weapon and the door to the bedroom where Ms Graves was staying, the prosecutor said.
Defence barrister Kerim Fuad QC said: "By the defendant pleading guilty to murder, not only has he spared the long-suffering family and friends of Ms Graves the extra and continuing emotional pain of a trial but with that plea today comes a formal and public acceptance of genuine criminal responsibility for his dreadful actions that day.
"This was a horrific violent attack committed to make good his escape."
He said there is "no light at the end of his tunnel" and called for the judge to impose the shortest possible sentence.
Following Ms Graves's murder, her son Tim Wood said: "She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist.
Why Dad Killed Mum: My Family's Secret, BBC3 & BBC1, review: this moving film addressing decades-long injustice
From Tasnim Lowe, whose father murdered her mother when she was 16 months old, was a terrible account of grooming and abuseAnyone expecting a happy story of heroism was swiftly disabused, however, as Lowe calmly explained that her father hadn’t dived in to rescue her from her burning family home but had instead placed her under a tree before going back inside to burn down said building while her 16-year-old mother Lucy, her 17-year-old aunt Sarah and her grandmother Eileen, 49, were inside.
"She had lived in Scotland for about 10 years, a place she loved and which inspired her passion for art.
"This has been devastating for the family and has come as a complete shock."
Her family described her as "an eternal student who was always hungry for a new challenge".
Judge Christine Laing QC said: "Rather than simply running away in the hope you could not be identified by a woman waking from sleep you conducted this horrific attack on Ms Graves.
"It was your dishonesty and greed that took you to the house. It was your cowardice and lack of morality that caused you to kill Valerie Graves."
She jailed him for life with a minimum term of 23 years and 272 days.
Judge Laing said: "Valerie Graves was a much-loved mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend.
"She celebrated her 55th birthday on Christmas Day.
"Extreme bruising and fractures to her hands show that in the final moments of her life she had desperately tried to defend herself from you.
"I am quite satisfied that it was a sustained attack and the terror and trauma for her in the final few moments of her life is unimaginable."
Drug dealer jailed for 26 years for murdering Jodie Chesney .
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