A tale of brutality too vile for lover to bear

Having moved to Britain just a month before their deaths, Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez were described as "two young men who had the misfortune to cross the paths of Farmer and Sonnex".

That misfortune began six days before their deaths when, rushing from the shower on the morning of Tuesday 23 June 2008, Laurent Bonomo saw a man fleeing his flat, in Sterling Gardens, New Cross. A laptop was stolen.

Although it has never been proven, it is almost certain that that man was Dano Sonnex, given that he had complained to friends about having a laptop that reverted to French. It follows that the next weekend, when looking for a house to burgle, Sonnex decided to revist familiar territory.

What came next was a "relentless and merciless onslaught" in which Mr Ferez was stabbed 50 times and Mr Bonomo, who "would not die", stabbed 194 times.

Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, met while studying biochemistry at university in France. In the summer of 2008 they enrolled on a three-month course at Imperial College in London. Mr Bonomo was later joined by his girlfriend, Marie Bertez, but she left London on 21 June, intending to return nine days later.

The day before their death Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez had gone to the tennis at Wimbledon, then to a pub to watch a French rugby match. They were captured on CCTV at Victoria, South Kensington and, later, at Canada Water stations. The last footage of them was at 9.43pm, where they were seen leaving a McDonald's restaurant in Surrey Quays shopping centre. The last anyone heard from them was Mr Bonomo's final text message to Ms Bertez when he told her that he and Mr Ferez were playing computer games on their handheld Sony PSP systems.

Five hours later, in the early morning of Sunday 29 June, the sleeping men were disturbed by Sonnex and Farmer. They were tied up and tortured for their bank cards and PINs. The students suffered appalling injuries. Mr Ferez's 50 wounds were to his eyes, head, neck and chest. Mr Bonomo was stabbed in the head, face, neck, back, chest, stomach, arms, hands and legs. The gruesome details were too much for Ms Bertez. Twice during the four-week trial she fled the courtroom in tears.