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A victim of murder whose death remains shrouded in mystery

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FAMILY and friends of murder victim Zsuzsanna Besenyei have been left wondering exactly how and why she met her death in May last year.

FRIENDS and co-workers of Zsuzsanna Besenyei have told the JEP they remember her as a upbeat person with a dry sense of humour, who was helpful and reliable.

Miss Besenyei was 37 when she lost her life here in Jersey in circumstances which remain unclear.

She was a petite woman standing just 5ft 3in and described as having a slim build and long brown hair.

Although Jamie Lee Warn, a man she had once worked with and was having a clandestine affair with, was yesterday convicted of murdering her last May, her cause of death was never established and any motive for the terrible crime remains unknown.

Miss Besenyei spent her last birthday with her ex-boyfriend Cliff Nobrega, with whom she had been involved since moving to the Island in 2011. The couple went out to dinner on 24 March to celebrate – six weeks later, she would be dead.

They had met online on the dating site Plenty of Fish before Miss Besenyei arrived and quickly became involved as she took up residence and a job at the former Les Charrières Hotel in St Peter.

Mr Nobrega admitted they had a complicated relationship, describing it a ‘rollercoaster’ in court, with dramatic highs and lows.

He gave evidence in the trial of Jamie Lee Warn that, while in May 2018 they were in an off period, he was trying to get her to give their relationship another chance.

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He told the court that although she was telling him she wanted their relationship to end, she had behaved that way in the past and had also told him she enjoyed being chased. ‘I was chasing her,’ he said.

The couple had lived together for several months at the end of 2017 but at the time of her death Miss Besenyei was living in shared accommodation in Maufant, renting a small single room for £120 a week.

Coming to Jersey

Little of Miss Besenyei’s life is known before she arrived in Jersey, although she was born in Hungary and had been living in the UK before she came to Jersey.

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Three members of Miss Besenyei’s family travelled to the Island to attend the trial, following the proceedings by live video link from a private room in the Royal Court building, with the assistance of a translator and a victim support officer. The family declined to speak to the JEP.

What is known is that Miss Besenyei began a relationship with Mr Nobrega on arrival in Jersey but also met Warn through her work at Les Charrières Hotel, where she was a chambermaid and he worked in maintenance.

Miss Besenyei and Warn developed a friendship which carried on through her years in Jersey and, at some point, it became sexual, usually when she was in an off period with her boyfriend, Warn told police in his early statements to them.

Changing jobs

Miss Besenyei would later work at the Revere Hotel and then move on to the job she had in finance at the time of her death, with Computershare Jersey.

Co-workers there remembered her as friendly and funny.

‘Zsuzsanna, or Zsu, as she was known to her colleagues, was a quiet employee with a dry sense of humour and a positive outlook on life,’ a spokeswoman for Computershare said. ‘She would enjoy entertaining her colleagues and was always happy to work with her team members to help solve any work issue.’

Miss Besenyei had recently accepted a job elsewhere but was planning a send-off with her Computershare officemates.

The Computershare spokeswoman said a number of her co-workers had made plans with Miss Besenyei to meet up for drinks to celebrate a new job she was moving to – but the celebration never happened.

When Miss Besenyei failed to show up for work on Monday 14 May, the company contacted Jamie Warn, as he was listed as her emergency contact.

Two days later her body was found at Le Pulec beach, to the shock of her colleagues. ‘She will be sadly missed,’ the company said.

Her final days

One of the last people so see Miss Besenyei alive was her personal trainer, Hannah Jacques, who remembered her client as having a sunny disposition and a good work ethic.

‘I trained Zsuzsanna on Liberation Day, 9 May, and I remember it being a really gorgeous sunny day and we had a really fun time doing a boxing-skipping circuit session together,’ Miss Jacques told the JEP.

‘My final memory of her is having a really good session and (her) leaving Fort Regent smiling and happy.’

Miss Jacques said Miss Besenyei took her fitness seriously and had committed to ten sessions with her, of which six had been completed.

‘She wanted to be really pushed in our sessions together, which made my job really enjoyable,’ she said. ‘She was really enjoying getting some regular fitness in and was starting to add in extra running in her own time too to get herself feeling great.’

Miss Jacques said it seemed to her that Miss Besenyei was in a ‘good place’.

‘As with all clients, we have moments of down time and chit-chat during sessions and she sounded like she was in a good place with work and due to start at a new job pretty soon,’ she said. ‘It was an absolute pleasure to train Zsuzsanna, as she was the perfect client. Someone who comes and works and leaves smiling. May she rest in peace.’

A number of witnesses who gave evidence over the eight-day trial also commented in court that she was reliable and kind. One woman for whom she had a casual cleaning job told the court she was so alarmed when Miss Besenyei did not show up to work on 12 May that she went looking for her and was one of the first people to contact the police.

She said that the previous week Miss Besenyei had left her a birthday present, as they had developed a friendship over the years. Another friend who had known Miss Besenyei since soon after she arrived in the Island described her to the JEP as a warm person.

‘Zsuzsanna was a lovely girl, smart, modest, hard-working and full of life,’ she said. ‘I still can’t believe she is not with us anymore. Absolutely shocking.’

Had she lived, Miss Besenyei had plans. She was due to get her hair done on 11 May and have an expensive eyebrow treatment later the same day. She had a new job to start.

As it stands, nine days from what would have been her 38th birthday, friends and family who cared for her are still left wondering exactly how and why she is no longer here.

Read more in Friday's JEP.

Tania Targett

By Tania Targett
Journalist

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