A FRENCH hotel worker killed a friend with a claw hammer after he was told the man was a spy the US security services wanted dead, a murder trial has heard.
Sebastian Bendou, 35, has admitted the manslaughter of Christophe Borgye, but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility as he suffers from a mental illness.
He told police he acted in self defence after Mr Borgye, also from France, attacked him with a knife in the kitchen of a house in Ellesmere Port the pair shared with another friend.
But Chester Crown Court heard yesterday he had later told psychiatrists another friend, Dominik Kocher, had told him Mr Borgye was a spy and had to be killed.
Mr Borgye’s body was found in May last year in a concrete tomb in a shed in the property’s back yard at 19 Hylton Court, Stanney Grange, almost four years after he went missing. The discovery was made shortly after Bendou called police to confess.
Gerard McDermott QC, prosecuting, told the court Bendou had been influenced by Kocher, the “star of the show”, who wanted Mr Borgye dead in a row about money.
Kocher, a married father of three who lived across the street, was found guilty of Mr Borgye’s murder in a separate earlier trial.
Mr McDermott said: “There’s no dispute between the psychiatrists that he [Bendou] suffers from, and has suffered from, a mental illness. Kocher told him an elaborate story; that he [Mr Borgye] was a French spy and the Americans had ordered him to be killed.”
But he added: “The fact that a man suffers from a mental illness does not mean he is not capable of murder.”
The jury heard that after the killing, Kocher sent an email to Mr Borgye’s brother in France reassuring him that he had simply gone travelling to Ireland and Europe and had met a Chinese woman with whom he then intended to visit China.
Mr McDermott told jurors: “That's a breathtaking email... a very clever and sophisticated invention from start to finish.”
Bendou had kept silent about his role in Mr Borgye’s death to cover for his friend, until it became “too much for his mind” and he confessed, the trial heard.
Iris Beaumont, a neighbour on Hylton Court who has worked with children with learning difficulties, said she had often seen Kocher and Bendou together, and suspected Bendou might be autistic.
She said: “Dominik always seemed to be the dominant one. Sebastian always seemed to be walking behind him. It always looked like he had to do as he was told.
“Sebastian looked like he was under the umbrella of autism. The only time Sebastian ever seemed happy was when he was with Dominik’s children, as he could relate to them. That was the only time I would ever see him smiling.”
Mr Borgye’s body, wrapped in a duvet and tarpaulin beneath rubble and concrete, was found with pairs of plastic overshoes, similar to those available at the Holiday Inn in Ellesmere Port, where Bendou worked, jurors heard.
Mr McDermott also said the kitchen had been hastily redecorated with red paint, “probably to mask any signs of blood smattering in the kitchen where this dreadful deed took place”.
l Another resident at 19 Hylton Court, Manuel Wagner, was found not guilty at a previous hearing of assisting an offender and preventing unlawful burial.