Romanian man charged with Valerie Graves murder

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A Romanian man has been charged with the murder of a grandmother who was bludgeoned to death as she house-sat for friends.

Artist Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead in bed at around 10am on December 30 2013 on the ground floor of a £1.6 million house by the sea in Bosham, West Sussex.

Cristian Sabou, 28, was held on a European Arrest Warrant last week at his home in Dej, in the north-west of his native Romania.

Sussex Police said he was extradited to the UK on Friday and will appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning charged with Ms Graves’s murder between December 29 and 30.

Police at the house in Bosham, West Sussex, where Valerie Graves was found bludgeoned to death
Police at the house where Valerie Graves was found dead (Chris Ison/PA)

She died just days after her birthday while house-sitting at the Smuggler’s Lane mansion – with her mother Eileen, her sister Jan and her sister’s partner Nigel Acres – for family friends the Chamberlains, who were on holiday in Costa Rica for Christmas.

Ms Graves was last seen alive at around 10pm the night before and there were no signs of a struggle.

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

Sussex Police then launched one of the biggest investigations in their history.

On the fifth anniversary of Ms Graves’s death last December, relatives told how no-one had given up hope on the investigation although there was a sense police had exhausted all lines of inquiry.

At the time, Sussex Police confirmed they had ended a huge DNA screening programme which saw almost 3,000 men tested, but detectives pledged to continue investigating.

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