Hammer attacker who fled Britain for Transylvania tells court the killing was ‘an accident’ 

‘Midsomer’ killer CONFESSES: Hammer attacker who fled Britain for Transylvania tells court grandmother’s killing was ‘an accident’ after she woke up in the middle of burglary

  • Romanian Cristian Sabou has admitted killing a British grandmother in 2013
  • In first appearance in court he confessed to the crime in Bosham, West Sussex 
  • 27-year-old has agreed to a bid by Sussex police to bring him to the UK for trial

Romanian Cristian Sabou, 27, admitted killing British grandmother Valerie Graves yesterday

Romanian Cristian Sabou, 27, admitted killing British grandmother Valerie Graves yesterday

The Romanian suspect in the killing of a British grandmother made a sensational courtroom confession yesterday – and apologised to her family.

Cristian Sabou, 27, was picked up by police on Wednesday under a European Arrest Warrant, having been wanted over the claw hammer killing of Valerie Graves, 55.

She had been house-sitting for a friend when she was killed in an idyllic coastal Sussex village over Christmas in 2013.

At his first appearance in court yesterday, Sabou – who lived in England for five years – spoke from the dock, in the presence of the judge, to admit to the killing in Bosham, West Sussex. He claimed it happened after he panicked when his victim caught him burgling the house in the dead of night.

Standing below the chandeliers of the grand appeal court hearing room, Sabou was asked what he had to say to the family of Miss Graves, and replied: ‘I’m very sorry, I’m really sorry. I did not mean to harm her. It was an accident.

‘I was young, 21, childish, without a job, I did not have much money, it was my first time in England.

‘I never did any harm in my life. Someone told me there was a lot of money in that house – I never went there to kill someone. I thought everybody was away.

He made the confession in court. The 55-year-old was found dead in a friend's house in Bosham, West Sussex, when Sabou broke into the property with a hammer

He made the confession in court. The 55-year-old was found dead in a friend’s house in Bosham, West Sussex, when Sabou broke into the property with a hammer

Valerie Graves (Pictured). After confessing to the killing, he said he was 'very sorry' to the family. 'I did not mean to harm her. It was an accident,' he said

Valerie Graves (Pictured). After confessing to the killing, he said he was ‘very sorry’ to the family. ‘I did not mean to harm her. It was an accident,’ he said

Sabou has agreed to a bid by Sussex Police to have him brought back to the UK so that he can face a charge of murder. Judge Claudia Ilies ruled that he would be flown to the country within 10 days

Sabou has agreed to a bid by Sussex Police to have him brought back to the UK so that he can face a charge of murder. Judge Claudia Ilies ruled that he would be flown to the country within 10 days

‘She was sleeping in bed, she woke up and she surprised me. I panicked. I had a hammer with me. I did not mean to harm her.’

In yesterday’s 40-minute extradition hearing in the province of Transylvania, Sabou agreed to a bid by Sussex Police to bring him back to Britain to face a charge of murder. Two detectives from the force were in court to assist the prosecution.

Judge Claudia Ilies ruled that he would be flown to the UK within ten days – but added that if he was sentenced to prison for the crime, he would be allowed to serve his sentence in Romania, as he had requested.

Sabou was not formally asked to give a plea to the charges.

He had been arrested on Wednesday morning, by a team of masked police at the flat he shared with his girlfriend in the town of Dej – 40 miles north of Cluj-Napoca, the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region.

Valerie Graves was found dead while house-sitting in this luxury property in Bosham, West Sussex in 2013 (pictured)

Valerie Graves was found dead while house-sitting in this luxury property in Bosham, West Sussex in 2013 (pictured)

Sabou was arrested  on Wednesday morning in the flat that he shared with his girlfriend in the Transylvanian town of Dej

Sabou was arrested  on Wednesday morning in the flat that he shared with his girlfriend in the Transylvanian town of Dej

This is the claw hammer police believe was used to bludgeon the 55-year-old artist to death on December 30, 2013

This is the claw hammer police believe was used to bludgeon the 55-year-old artist to death on December 30, 2013

The property lies on Vlad Tepes Street – named after the infamous 15th-century tyrant, nicknamed ‘Vlad the Impaler’ for impaling his enemies alive on wooden stakes and said to be the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic novel, Dracula.

Miss Graves’s long-unsolved killing had been dubbed the ‘Midsomer Murder’ because the ITV whodunit drama Midsomer Murders filmed its 1998 episode Written in Blood near the scene of the crime.

London-born Miss Graves was an artist running a craft studio in Roxburghshire, Scotland, but had recently moved to Sussex to be close to her poorly mother.

She was housesitting for her friends, Malcolm and Caroline Chamberlain, in their £1.6 million home in Bosham near Chichester harbour, while they holidayed with their children in Costa Rica.

Miss Graves was sleeping in the only downstairs bedroom, while her sister Janet, 60, Janet’s architect boyfriend Nigel Acres, 59, and their elderly mother Eileen, 87, were all upstairs.

Her sister found her body in the bedroom when she went to take her a breakfast tea. She had suffered multiple head and face wounds in an apparently frenzied assault.

Police were stumped despite taking 2,800 DNA samples from locals and carrying out more than 5,000 interviews. They had found the claw hammer nearby.

Sussex Police said they would not comment until the end of Sabou’s murder case in Britain.

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