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Body in a tomb family speak of 'terrible' grief

Published date: 30 May 2014 |
Published by: Neil Bellis
Read more articles by Neil Bellis


 

THE family of a man brutally murdered by his housemates who then buried him in a concrete tomb in their shed have spoken about their grief.

Christophe Borgye was murdered by two of his housemates, Sebastian Bendou, 36, of no fixed abode, and Dominik Kocher, 35, of New Abbey, Dumfries, Scotland, when they lived together in Hylton Court, Ellesmere Port, in April 2009.

Mr Borgye, a flight attendant, who is originally from Ronchin in France, had been reported missing to police by a work colleague in May 2009 but enquiries at the time led officers and his family to believe he had left the country.

However, four years later, in May 2013, police made the shocking discovery after Bendou contacted the force and confessed to Christophe’s murder.

He was taken to the property by officers and showed them where the body was concealed. A search of the property led to the discovery of a concrete structure in the outbuilding. A low brick wall had been built inside the structure to conceal the body with three separate layers of concrete placed over the body to bury it.

A post mortem examination concluded that Mr Borgye died as a result of a number of blows to the head believed to have been from a hammer – a hammer was also found buried alongside the body.

He had moved to the UK in 2007 while employed as a flight attendant and, at that time, had lived in Liverpool with Bendou and another man, Manuel Wagner.

In July 2008, all three moved to the address in Hylton Court. A fourth man, Dominik Kocher, also moved to a house on the same street with his family. The incident is believed to have taken place in the kitchen of the property in April 2009.

Bendou claimed that Mr Borgye had threatened him with a knife and he was acting in self-defence when he attacked him with a hammer that was on the table.

The exact reason behind the incident remains unclear but it is believed to have been pre-meditated and had taken place due to a row over money – with Kocher being the driving force.

During the investigation it became clear that Kocher controlled the finances of the trio with Bendou and Wagner paying all of their wages into his bank account and dealing with everything relating to finances for them. Mr Borgye paid some of his wages into Kocher’s account and also paid the rent on the property.

Christophe was subsequently reported missing by a work colleague on May 17, 2009. Numerous enquiries were carried out, which led officers and his family to believe he had left the country.

The trio later left Ellesmere Port and the new tenants were told not to go into the outbuilding at Hylton Court as the landlord used it to store personal property.

In August 2012 they all moved to Scotland, this time as one big group, living at various temporary holiday accommodation addresses.

On May 13, 2013, Bendou returned to Ellesmere Port where he contacted Cheshire Police. Bendou was initially sectioned under the Mental Health Act following his arrest but was later deemed fit to stand trial.

During the trial Bendou changed his story and said Kocher had forced him to murder Mr Borgye by telling Bendou he was a French spy who was going to rape Kocher’s daughter.

Bendou said he had been ‘indoctrinated’ and believed Kocher’s story Mr Borgye was a secret agent sent to ensure his wife was deported to France where she had tax issues. He was told ‘the Americans’ wanted Mr Borgye dead and had offered Kocher an ultimatum during clandestine telephone conversations.

“Dominik was given the choice by the Americans either to get rid of Christophe or the Americans would get rid of Christophe themselves,” Bendou told jurors.

“I told him twice not to do it. I said we shouldn’t do this. We should let the Americans deal with it. [Dominik said] Christophe wanted to rape his daughter so he would do it himself. He said he [Mr Borgye] is going to come out of this house feet first. I didn’t want to do it. He said ‘you’d better do it because I’m watching you’.”

Bendou had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility due to mental illness but the jurors rejected his story and found him guilty of murder on Wednesday at Chester Crown Court by a majority of 10-2. He will be sentenced on July 15 at Preston Crown Court.

At an earlier trial Dominik Kocher was found guilty of the murder of Christophe Borgye, and Manuel Wagner, 26, also from New Abbey in Dumfries, Scotland, was found not guilty of assisting an offender and preventing a lawful burial.

After the verdict the family of Mr Borgye released a statement saying Christophe’s death was “terribly painful”.

The statement read: “Christophe’s absence from our lives is terribly painful. We think about him every day.

“Unfortunately, his killers have ended his hopes and dreams. He did not have the joy of being at his brother’s wedding and the pleasure of getting to know his nephew, born in 2011.

“We have taken note of the verdict in the first trial regarding the conviction of Dominik Kocher and we acknowledge the verdict in the second trial.

“We would like to thank Cheshire Police for their great efforts rendered during the course of the investigation, for the attention and care they have offered us during this enquiry and whilst we have been in your country.

“We would also like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service, the legal team as well as the Judge and juries.”

The man who led the investigation into the murder, Detective Inspector Gwyn Dodd from Cheshire Police’s major investigation team, said the investigation was “painstaking”. He said: “This has been a long and extremely complicated investigation from the start, not least due to the language barriers but also issues surrounding the body and how it had been concealed.

“It was a painstaking process in recovering the body from the outbuilding and formally identifying it and there were numerous lines of enquiry which followed, including mapping the movements and financial transactions of all those involved five years ago, the assistance of a wide range of experts including forensic archeologists, entomologists, cement experts, pathologists, psychiatrists, translators and financial investigators and interviews of witnesses from Germany, France, Scotland and Ireland.

“The strain of their secret in the end proved too much for Bendou however, who ended up fleeing Scotland and returning to Ellesmere Port to face up to his crime.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to Christophe’s family. This has been a difficult process and I hope that the successful conclusion of this case will help to bring about a degree of closure.”

Richard Riley, senior crown prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service Mersey-Cheshire, said: “Bendou led us to the grisly tomb of Christophe Borgye and he is now facing the consequences of his role in this tragedy.

“Mr Borgye, Kocher and Bendou were all friends yet Kocher seemed to exert some strange influence over the others that we have never managed to get to the bottom of.

“Mr Borgye and Bendou had their wages paid into Kocher’s account and, in return, he seems to have managed their affairs.

“We may never know the reason why Bendou and Kocher killed Mr Borgye on that fateful day – the picture is too murky. But it seems likely money was at the heart of it.

“Kocher bought knives in the days leading up to the killing and tarpaulin, bricks and cement. We’ve always maintained these were used in the killing and to bury the body.

“This murder was planned, brutally executed and extensively covered up.”

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