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Valerie Graves murder: Man pleads guilty to killing grandmother in £ 1.6 million house – Mirror Online, Mirror.co.uk


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A Romanian man who murdered a grandmother with a claw hammer just days after Christmas has been jailed for life.

The brutal killing of Valerie Graves shocked the small village of Bosham in West Sussex, and was called “The Midsomer Murder” as police spent years looking for a suspect.

As her family slept in rooms nearby, the 55 – year-old artist was bludgeoned to death in the ground-floor bedroom of a £ 1.6million waterside property where she was house-sitting for wealthy friends who were on holiday.

Cristian Sabou, who was arrested in Dej, Romania in July, pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at Lewes Cro wn Court on Monday.

Valerie Graves was found beaten to death just days after Christmas in 2013

He has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 24 years behind bars.

Ms Graves had just moved down from Scotland to be closer to her family, with whom she spent Christmas before she was found dead with severe head injuries on December 30.

The killing sparked one of the longest murder hunts in Sussex Police history, but it was not until July this year that Sabou, 28, was arrested in Romania on a European warrant and charged and extradited to the UK.

Cristian Sabou has admitted murdering Valerie Graves

He was investigated by police after a tip-off from his ex-wife, who had discovered he was cheating on her after they returned to their homeland, it was reported at the time.

Sabou and his wife remained in the UK after the grandmother’s death in a village used to film scenes for the TV detective series Midsomer Murders.

But four years after the killing he moved back to Romania and took up a job in construction.

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The house where Ms Graves was found bludgeoned to death in a bedroom

Following Ms Graves’ murder, her son, Tim Wood, said: “She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist.

“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”.

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Police released a photo of a claw hammer they believe was used in the murder

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Police launched a massive investigation, interviewing more than 9, 000 people and taking 3, 000 DNA samples in an attempt to find her killer. Her family offered a £ 10, 000 reward.

Murdered gran ‘a free spirit who enjoyed her life’

In the winter of 2013, when families across the country were wrapped up warm enjoying the last days of the festive period, tragedy struck in a small coastal village.

Valerie Graves’ family had been excited to spend Christmas with her after she moved down from Scotland.

Sabou appears in court in Romania following his arrest earlier this year

But the unthinkable happened. The beloved grandmother and “free spirit” artist was found bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of a luxury home the family had been spending the holidays in.

Her family and friends were devastated, and the village of Bosham in West Sussex was left in shock.

And to pile on to her family’s grief, it has taken nearly six years to bring *** kill her to justice.

Extradited to the UK from Romania in July this year, Cristian Sabou pleaded guilty to her murder on Monday.

In the days after her death Ms Graves’ family paid tribute to their loved one, all the while issuing emotional appeals for information about what happened.

Romanian police officers storm Sabou’s house

Mother-of-two Ms Graves had recently moved to nearby Bracklesham Bay to be closer to her family.

Her son Tim Wood said: ” My mum was much loved and will be sorely missed by the whole family.

“She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist.

“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”.

At the time of her death Ms Graves had begun to pursue ceramics as a new avenue for her art.

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