Valerie Graves: Romanian man appears in court charged with murder of Sussex grandmother

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a grandmother found bludgeoned to death in a £1.6 million mansion nearly six years ago.

Saturday, 20th July 2019, 3:11 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st July 2019, 5:16 pm

Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead in bed at about 10am on December 30 2013 on the ground floor of a seaside house in Bosham.

Cristian Sabou, 27, appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Saturday after he was held on a European Arrest Warrant last week at his home in Dej, in the north-west of his native Romania.

He was flanked by two security officers as he stood in the dock, wearing a patterned white t-shirt and with short hair and stubble, and showed no reaction as the charge was read out.

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Valerie Graves. Provided by Sussex Police

With the help of a Romanian interpreter, he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and nationality.

No plea was entered during the five-minute hearing and the presiding justice, Barney Miller, remanded Sabou in custody ahead of a hearing at Lewes Crown Court on July 23.

Sussex Police said Sabou was extradited to the UK on Friday.

He allegedly murdered Ms Graves - who had moved from Scotland to Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex, shortly before her death - between December 28 and 31, according to the charge read out in court.

Ms Graves died just days after her birthday, which was on Christmas Day, while house-sitting at the mansion in Smuggler's Lane with her mother Eileen, sister Jan and sister's partner Nigel Acres.

A post-mortem examination found she had severe head injuries after being hit with a claw hammer, probably at about midnight.