New Cross double murder
The New Cross double murder occurred on 29 June 2008, when two French research students, Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, were murdered in Sterling Gardens, New Cross, London Borough of Lewisham in South East London, United Kingdom.
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The victims were bound, gagged, and tortured over several hours, and finally died after being stabbed 196 and 47 times, respectively. The bodies were discovered by firefighters in an apartment, rented by Laurent Bonomo, at Sterling Gardens, New Cross on 29 June 2008. Greenwich mortuary post mortem showed both died from wounds to the head, neck and chest before the fire took hold. A petrol-like accelerant was poured upon their bodies.
Both victims were biochemistry students and in their third year of a master's degree at Polytech Clermont-Ferrand university in France, on a three-month DNA research project exchange programme at Imperial College London. Bonomo was from Velaux, Bouches-du-Rhône, southern France; Ferez from Prouzel, Picardy, northern France.
It was established that the victims' bank cards and two Sony PSP handheld game consoles were missing, and it was believed they were taken during the incident. Prior to the events, on 23 June 2008, the same flat in Sterling Gardens, which Bonomo was renting, was burgled and a laptop was stolen.
On 6 July 2008, police issued an image of the murders' main suspect, based on the descriptions of witnesses who had seen him running away from Sterling Gardens just after 22:00 BST. He was described as "white, 30 to 40 years of age, of slight or slim build and wearing light coloured baseball cap, a dark top with the word "Junfan" on, blue jeans and white trainers".
Ferez's parents Françoise and Olivier, of Prouzel, appealed: "Please help us to reveal the truth. Help us to know, to understand and to come to terms with our loss." They also stated: "Rest assured that we will not leave you in peace; and you will not be able to live in hiding forever." DCI Mick Duthie stated: "I also want to reiterate an appeal for anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious throughout that day, last Sunday, June 29. Just to repeat what we know: Laurent spoke to his fiancee around 01:00 BST on the Sunday morning. After that, no-one heard from Laurent or Gabriel or saw them. It is important to stress that the attack could have taken place at any time during Sunday."
Second arrest and charge
The thin 33-year-old man whose face and hands were badly burned had walked into Lewisham police station, apparently to confess as the killer. But he was told to wait in line at the reception by a civilian worker for 5 minutes. He said: "I've got third degree f***ing burns and they are not doing anything about it." He was released from hospital and interviewed in custody by the police. Meanwhile, 600 students, on 7 July demonstrated against their murders in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The group led by Mayor Serge Godart, included teachers, local residents and children that carried a huge banner "Pour Lolo et Gab" ("For Lolo and Gab"), "From all the corners of the world, the second-year biological students think of you and those close to you."
A Greenwich Magistrates' Court's judge, on the afternoon of 8 July, granted London's Metropolitan Police's request for extension of investigation, by issuing a 36 hours "warrant of further detention." Accordingly, Southwark Coroner's Court's Doreen Lawrence adjourned the coroner's inquest for 28 days pending police inquiries.
Court appearance and other arrests
On 10 July, Nigel Edward Farmer, 33, unemployed and without fixed address, was charged with double murder, arson and attempting to pervert the course of justice when he appeared before Greenwich Magistrates' Court. Bench chairman Phil Rogers ordered his remand in custody until 16 October for his appearance at the Old Bailey. Wearing a white sweatshirt, a tracksuit top with rolled up sleeves and white tracksuit bottoms, and his head shaved, he stood in the dock with 2 security guards. No application for bail was filed.
On 11 July 2008, it was reported by ITN that another man had been arrested in connection with the murders. Armed police arrested 6 feet 3 inches Daniel "Dano" Sonnex, 23, in Peckham, south-east London, after Scotland Yard issued an alert to trace him. Described as "extremely dangerous" he was detained and investigated after his brother, Bernard, 35 and a woman, 25, handed themselves to the police. Sonnex had been previously detained regarding serious, violent incidents. His parents, Kathleen and Bernard, both 55, live in a terraced house in New Cross. Armed officers raided the brothers' council house in Deptford, South East London.
Sonnex, 23, from Peckham, on 12 July 2008, was charged with murder and perverting the course of justice. He appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on 14 July. Sonnex's brother, Bernard, 35, and a woman, aged 25, had been released on bail, to return on July and August, respectively, pending further investigation. Police were also granted more time to question a man of 23 on the murders. Dano Sonnex appeared before Wimbledon magistrates and was back in custody until October 20 to appear at the Old Bailey.
The trial of Daniel Sonnex and Nigel Farmer began on 24 April 2009 at the Old Bailey.
The jury began to consider their verdict on 29 May 2009. Moving impact statements were given by the prosecutor.
On 4 June 2009, Sonnex and Farmer were found guilty of murder, Sonnex was sentenced to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison, and Farmer was ordered to stay behind bars for at least 35 years. Sonnex should have been in prison at the time of the murders but had been set free due to an administrative error. David Scott, the chief officer of London Probation, resigned in March 2009 after an investigation began into why Sonnex had not been recalled to prison. While the UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw has apologised to the families over the blunders which left Sonnex free to commit the crime, the families announced their intentions to commence legal proceedings against the authorities.
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