Man accused of killing French students 'tried to burgle TV star'

Attempted break-in at home of 'EastEnders' actress an hour before fatal attacks

The man accused of torturing and killing two French students in a south London flat also tried to burgle the home of an EastEnders actress just one hour before the attacks, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Dano Sonnex, 23, climbed up to a window at the home of 63-year-old actress Maureen Bass – who plays "Big" Mo Slater in the BBC soap opera – with a knife between his teeth, the court was told. He was only stopped when a friend, who was staying at Ms Bass's home, woke up and asked what he was doing. He asked if it was "Big Mo's house" and said he wanted her autograph.

The actress – who is the sister of the Hollywood star Gary Oldman – phoned the police to report the attempted burglary at 5am, just half an hour before Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, were murdered.

The jury heard earlier that the bio-chemistry students were bound and stabbed 244 times in a flat in New Cross last June in what the prosecution described as "an orgy of bloodletting".

Yesterday, they heard evidence from Mr Sonnex's co-accused Nigel Farmer, 34. Mr Farmer, who says he took no part in the murders, told the court that he and Mr Sonnex had been at a friend's house on the night in question.

The court was told that the house of the friend, who cannot be named, was adjacent to that of Ms Bass. Mr Farmer said that Mr Sonnex and the friend had talked about committing a burglary. He said he took no part in what happened but saw Mr Sonnex climb on the house with knife between his teeth. Ms Bass's friend, Sue Ann Blomfield, described in a witness statement how she was staying over that night when she disturbed a burglar.

She said that the man had tried to get into the house at 4.30am and had asked her "is this Mo's house? I want her signature". She had told him to "fuck off" and he then left, but warned that he would return.

The court heard that Mr Farmer was staying at the Sonnex family home in Deptford at the time of the killings.

Mr Farmer said that Mr Sonnex had returned to the house with "red staining" on his clothes and later ordered him to dump the knife in the River Thames before taking him to a service station where he was told to fill two jerry cans with petrol.

Mr Farmer admitted setting fire to the flat where Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez were murdered, but said he only did so under threat. He claimed that Mr Sonnex had threatened to cut his children's legs off. He told the court he had climbed in through a window and did not see the dead bodies of the students because it was dark.

Both men deny murder, arson, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and false imprisonment. Mr Sonnex admits burglary, which Mr Farmer denies. The trial continues.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week