A man has been arrested in Romania over the murder of Valerie Graves in Bosham, over five years ago.
On December 30, 2013, the 55-year-old mother and grandmother was found brutally murdered in her bedroom in Smugglers Lane, Bosham. She had been staying at the property while the owners were away over the Christmas period.
Romanian national Cristian Sabou, 28, was arrested on Wednesday morning under a European arrest warrant (EAW) at his address in Dej by officers from the Romanian national police, who served on him the EAW which had been authorised by a district judge in the UK.
Detectives from the Surrey and Sussex major crime team have been working closely with the authorities in Romania.
Sabou’s extradition is now being sought through the Romanian courts and he will now appear in court in Cluj-Napoca to face extradition proceedings. The time and date have yet to be confirmed.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Fanner said: “This is a major development in the case. It follows detailed enquiries in Romania by officers from the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, in which we were assisted by valuable liaison with local law enforcement officers of the General Police Inspectorate, Criminal Investigations Directorate, Bucharest, the Criminal Investigation Service in Cluj, and the Special Operations Brigade in Cluj, also the local prosecutor.
“We have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service throughout and they have authorised the prosecution. We have also had valuable support from the National Crime Agency’s overseas network.
“Valerie’s family have been kept informed of developments but they are not making any public statement at this time.
“We now hope to ensure, subject to the decision of the Romanian courts and judicial authorities, Sabou’s return to this country for an appearance before magistrates with a view to his being sent for crown court trial.
“This is a major development in our task of achieving justice for Valerie and her family, but now the case is before the courts, proceedings are active, and we are not in a position to disclose any further information at this time.”
A renewed appeal for help was issued by the police last year on the fifth anniversary of the grandmother’s brutal murder.
Valerie arrived to house sit at a property in Smugglers Lane, with her mother, Eileen, just days before Christmas to celebrate the holidays and Valerie’s birthday.
Valerie’s sister, Jan, and her sister’s partner, Nigel Akers, arrived shortly afterwards. The mansion belonged to the Chamberlains, friends of Nigel’s, who were holidaying in Costa Rica with their children.
As the festive period drew to a close, the family were preparing to return to their own homes but remained at the house on the evening of December 29. Valerie was staying in a ground-floor bedroom at the back of the premises.
The following morning, on December 30, Valerie was found dead in her bedroom by her sister. She had suffered severe head and facial injuries.
A patio door, leading directly from the bedroom outside to the back of the premises, was found to be unlocked.
The killing of Valerie in December, 2013, remains one of the biggest murder investigations carried out by Sussex Police in recent years.
Police guarded the house as forensics officers began the painstaking challenge of collecting vital evidence. In the days after her murder, officers spent a significant time in the area, speaking to those living and working there, to gather information and witnesses.
Just days after the murder, a hammer was found by police search teams in Hoe Lane, at the entrance to the driveway of Hart’s Farm, approximately 600 metres away from the murder scene. It was confirmed as the weapon used to kill Valerie.
On January 14, 2014, a 22-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Valerie. He was questioned and released on bail but eventually released without further action.
In November, 2014, detectives believed they had a breakthrough in the case. Forensic scientists had obtained a limited DNA profile for the suspect, which meant they could start requesting voluntary DNA samples to eliminate men from the investigation who lived and worked in the Bosham area, either permanently or as migrant workers.
Two months later, in January, 2015, Sussex Police started the biggest voluntary mass DNA screening in its history of all men aged over 17 who lived or worked in Bosham. Despite collecting 2,819 DNA samples, no match was found