Dano Sonnex and Nigel Farmer:THE TARANTINO MURDERS

BY SIMON ALFORD

Dano Sonnex should have been completing an eight-year sentence for a stabbing and a gunpoint robbery.

But a series of mistakes by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Metropolitan Police and the probation service meant he was free to kill Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23.

Sonnex was released on licence in February last year, having served five years of his sentence passed down in 2003.

Within two days he had tied up and threatened a pregnant female relative and her boyfriend with a knife and demanded money – an attack chillingly similar to the murders he would later commit.

He escaped further punishment when the victims refused to support a prosecution and his probation officer, inexperienced and overworked, took no further action.

Sonnex was remanded back to prison on April 23 after being caught with a stolen handbag in a pub in New Cross. He was charged and due to face trial at Greenwich Magistrates Court on May 16.

But magistrates granted him unconditional bail five weeks before the students were murdered when his trial for handling stolen goods failed to go ahead because the Crown Prosecution Service was not ready.

On June 13, more than a month after the probation worker began working on Sonnex’s recall a warrant was finally issued.

Buta break-down in communication meant the warrant was held at Lewisham police for 16 days and officers did not turn up at his family home in Deptford, southeast London, to bring him in until hours after the students were murdered.

In total 33 days had passed since Sonnex was released from the magistrates court.

BURNT HIS CLOTHES

Officers turned up at (68) Etta Street at 2.20pm on June 29, after Sonnex had already cleaned himself up and burnt his bloody clothes in the backgarden.

They searched the property, where his accomplice Nigel Farmer, 34, was also staying, but found no trace of Sonnex, who was hiding in a neighbour’s garden.

The two blood-soaked killers had stripped naked in the kitchen after returning from the Mr Bonomo’s bedsit six hours earlier.

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Nigel Farmer

Sonnex hid in a neighbour’s garden while his father Bernard let police in.

‘I had to jump over the fence,’ he said. ‘They told my father why they came looking for me.

‘When I came back he told me and I knew it wasn’t over 12 Sterling Gardens.

‘It was licence recall. I left over the back and into my neighbour’s house.’

In a further shocking twist, trouble Sonnex had warned he ‘could kill’ four years before the gruesome murders.

In May 2004 he was seen by a doctor at Portland young offenders’ institute in Dorset because of his erratic behaviour while in custody.

Sonnex, then aged 18, was described as a ‘very troubled young man’ and said to be a ‘high risk’ prisoner.

The doctor reported that: ‘Sonnex had said he felt his reaction to events meant that he could kill.’

But his comments remained in Sonnex’s confidential medical file and were never disclosed to prison staff.

At the age of 21, in 2006, Sonnex was moved to Elmley prison on the Isleof Sheppey in Kent, but senior staff were given no indication of his threats two years previously.

Although his behaviour improved inside an adult prison he was still graded as a ‘high risk’ offender when he was released on February 8 last year.

Crucially, the probation service only graded Sonnex at ‘medium risk’ after reviewing his file.

The officer that dealt with his case never saw the prison report, which had been created on a separate computer system.

Police, probation officers and Ministry of Justice officials have nowapologised for the mistakes which left Sonnex, who had a ‘enthusiasm for serious armed violence’, unmonitored in the community.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has personally apologised to both families.

David Scott resigned as the chief officer of London probation, after he was suspended pending further inquiries, and the Met also suspended one sergeant.

NEW CROSS IS A CRIMINAL ENVIRONMENT

‘Deptford and New Cross is a criminal environment. I told probation not to send me back to the area. I get involved with people,’ bragged Sonnex.

Sonnex had befriended Nigel Farmer, 34, a crack and heroin addict who would go to any lengths to secure his next fix.

His life had spiraled out of control after his partner of ten years, and mother of his twins, dumped him because of his drinking, drug taking and extreme mood swings.

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Laurent Bonomo

Together they attacked their victimswith such savage ferocity that detectives likened the scene to the ultra-violence of a Quentin Tarantino film.

The ‘orgy of bloodletting’ in the tiny south London flat was the end of a night of crime for the two men, who had earlier attempted to break-in to thehome of an EastEnders actress.

They were pumped with adrenaline and out of control following a session of binge-drinking gorging on high strength pot, cocaine and ecstasy.

They killed Mr Bonomoand  Mr Ferez, during almost three-hours of torture, stabbing thetwo men 244 times, for their mobile phones, two computer consoles andsome cash.

Sonnex later admitted he made just £80 from the horrific killings.

UNSTABLE THUGS

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said: ‘Two mentally unstable thugs high on drink and drugs killed two boys out of revenge because they didn’t get the money they thought they were entitled to get.’

Farmer was forced to give himself up a week later after he was badly burnt setting fire tothe south London flat by dousing it in petrol.

He had cut a pathetic figure in the weeks before the killings, his weight dropping to just 9st as he wasted away the days in a drug-induced haze.

Emotionally unstable and battling depression, he was on the edge – his ferocious temper made more extreme by heavy drinking.

In the aftermath of the gruesome murders, Farmer was left stumbling from the homes of different friends, trying to keep one step ahead of th epolice.

When an e-fit of the man seen fleeing the scene of the explosion was released, Farmer realised he had no alternative but togive himself up.

He was so out of it on drugs that he walked into Lewisham police station and ranted: ‘I just killed two people and the police don’t f*cking want to do anything about it.’

Farmertoo had only been released a few weeks before the slayings – after discharging himself from a psychiatric unit where he was receiving treatment for erratic and suicidal behaviour.

HIGH ON DRINK AND DRUGS

On June 29 last year Sonnex and Farmer, high on a cocktail of drink anddrugs, burst in to the little bedsit flat where unsuspecting tenant Mr Bonomo and his friend Mr Ferez were sleeping.

The pair were spending more than £100-a-day on drugs and were both desperate for cash.

Armed with knives they took the two startled Frenchmen, dressed only in their underpants, hostage before collecting up mobile phones and computer consoles.

But it was not enough and with their victims at their mercy, having bound them at their ankles and wrists with stockings and tea towels, the burglars tortured them for more.

Police believe volatile Sonnex lost control when Mr Ferez’s bank card was swallowed at an ATM machine as he tried to empty the account.

He had already withdrawn £360 from Mr Bonomo’s account at a different cashpoint.

The two helpless students had already served their purpose, but Sonnex and Farmer believed Mr Ferez had given them the wrong PIN number and wanted revenge.

Their bodies were left mutilated, having been stabbed repeatedly over a considerable period of time.

Mr Bonomo, who Sonnex described as ‘compliant’, was first to hand over his bank card and PIN number.

194 SEPERATE WOUNDS

But out of the two victims, he suffered the majority of the injuries. A post mortem revealed 194 separate wounds on his body.

Farmer later confessed the two men died ‘slowly’, telling Fay Culyer, 26, and Bernie Sonnex, 36: ‘They wouldn’t die, they just wouldn’t die.’

Mr Bonomo’s carotid artery, a major vessel carrying blood from the heart to the brain, was severed completely in two.

The jugular vein, transporting blood back towards the heart, was also cut.

Either wound would have led to collapse within seconds, meaning almost all of the other injuries were caused before he died.

These included 12 ‘gaping’ wounds to the neck, 10 cuts or stab wounds behindthe ear and the left side of the neck, 12 to the abdomen and 15 to theleft side of the back.

There were 15 separate wounds made between each rib, to the side and to the back.

Seven stab wounds had been inflicted to the left side of the head, of which four penetrated the full thickness of the skull.

There was also a total of 14 stab wounds that penetrated the left lung, a single stab that damaged the left kidney and another that caused damage to the spleen.

COMBINED EFFECT OF VARIOUS WOUNDS

Apathologist’s report concluded Mr Bonomo died ‘from bleeding from the combined effects of various wounds’ to the neck and trunk.

There was also evidence that Mr Bonomo, who was 5ft 11in tall and weighed 13-stone, had tried to defend himself as he suffered a number of cuts to the fingers, thumbs and palms of the hand.

One theory is that Sonnex and Farmer forced Mr Ferez, who was stabbed 50 times, to watch Mr Bonomo being tortured.

Mr Ferez, who was  5ft 7in tall and just over nine stone had at firstrefused to give out his PIN number and was then accused of giving a false one when his card was swallowed.

He was stabbed at least eleven times after he was dead.

Bruising was found on Mr Ferez’s wrists caused by resistance to the ligatures which had been wrapped around them, suggesting he had put up a fight or tried to struggle free.

The cause of death was given as multiple stab wounds, but two wounds that cut in to the heart and one to theright lung would have proved fatal.

In June last year Sonnex and Farmer were part of a crowd of southeast London low-life who were committing petty crime to feed escalating drug habits.

Sonnex’s violent brother Bernie was ‘a face’ in Deptford and New Cross known not to be messed with.

SCAR FACED BERNIE

But even scar-faced Bernie told his girlfriend Miss Culyer that his younger brother had ‘gone too far’.

Jus tminutes before they launched their murderous attack, Farmer and Sonnex tried to burgle the south London home of EastEnders actress LailaMorse, 63, who plays Albert Square battleaxe ‘Big’ Mo Harris.

Ms Morse, sister of Gary Oldman, has played the character Mo in the soap opera since 2000.

Sonnex, carrying a 10-inch Turkish army knife between his teeth, was confronted at a first floor window by a friend of the actress.

He had eyed-up the property from the garden of a friends’ house which backed on to Ms Morse’s south London house.

Sonnex scaled her conservatory, heading for the open window of a back bedroom.

Sue Ann Blomfield, who was staying with Ms Morse, confronted the shaven-headed intruder around 4.30am.

‘Initially I thought Maureen’s cat had fallen off the roof. I opened the curtains and saw a man.

‘He had his hands on the window frame and I formed the opinion he was aboutto climb through the open window. I hadn’t realised it was open at all.

HAND OVER HIS FACE

‘I said “what the f*ck are you doing”. The man was standing on the conservatory, he crouched down and put his hand over his face.

‘He said: “Is this Mo’s house”.

‘I said no, it’s my house.

‘I was alarmed because I had been expecting a cat and I was met with man trying to climb in the window.

‘He said “I want her signature”. I told him to f*ck off again.

‘He seemed to lose his balance when I banged on the window with both hands.

‘He said: “You done my ankle in, I’m coming back.’

Ms Blomfield said she watched from the window as the man climbed over a fence and jumped in to a neighbouring garden.

She then immediately woke Ms Morse and her son and the police were called at 4.49am.

Farmer and Sonnex went on to break-in to nearby 12 Sterling Gardens and attacked Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez sometime after 5.30am.

THE SONNEX FAMILY HOUSE

After the killings both men fled to the Sonnex family house in (68) Etta Street, Deptford.

They stripped naked in the kitchen and dumped their clothes in a bag, which was later burnt in the back garden.

Bernard Sonnex (snr) is said to have lit the bonfire with white spirit, while Culyer confessed to her mother that she had hosed down the garden.

On the morning of June 29, Farmer and friend Brendan Cummings dumped the murder weapons in the Thames.

Sonnex bought petrol and was caught on CCTV heading back to Sterling Gardens around mid-morning.

He attempted to set a fire by turning the oven and an iron on inside theflat, having scattered accelerant through in the kitchen and lounge.

Neighbours reported to police there was a strong smell of petrol that morning, but the fire did not take hold.

It forced Farmer to return under the cover of darkness, around 10pm, withmore petrol to make sure all evidence in the flat was destroyed.

BUILD UP OF FUMES

He covered the rooms with more fuel but when he went to light the fire the build up of fumes exploded, blasting the window frames from thebrickwork.

He later turned up at the home of Culyer, who he had a fling with before she went out with Bernie Sonnex.

She described him as ‘red raw’ when he arrived.

Culyer also said she saw Farmer looking like ‘he had seen a ghost’ after the killings.

He told her: ‘I done something really wrong’.

Shetold police how Farmer confessed that he and Sonnex had broken in to the flat and Sonnex had started stabbing the two men and knifed one of them in the eye.

‘Farmer said that Sonnex had stabbed the men again and again. Sonnex had given Farmer the knife and told him to finish them off. One of the men would not die,’ said Mr Aylett.

Culyer also told detectives that Sonnex confessed to her and Bernie at a pub in New Cross several days later.

‘He just said “it’s done now, you can’t change it”. He didn’t seem fussed by it, not one bit,’ she said.

‘He wasn’t phased by it at all. He shrugged his shoulders and didn’t care.

‘He didn’t care about what had happened. He was going to change his appearance, he was going to go on the run and he was going to take atool with him.’

SONNEX CONFESSED

In court she claimed to have been ‘confused’ during her interview and denied Sonnex had confessed.

She denied she had been put under pressure by any of the Sonnex family to change her story.

Despite Bernie being arrested earlier this year for threatening to kill her, she said: ‘He understands the pressure that I have been under and whatI have had to deal with and the predicament that I have been put in andhe supports me.

‘I am carrying his child, his first child, and I mean a lot to him and he means a lot to me.’

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The friends together

Sonnex fled to a family retreat in Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

He laid low, being sent drugs and money, until he saw on a news report that brother Bernie and Culyer had been arrested.

He was caught on CCTV at Sittingbourne railway station in Kent before he boarded a train to London Victoria on July 10.

That day officers had released a picture of Sonnex, the prime suspect in themurders, and warned he was ‘dangerous’ and should not be approached.

HIDING IN THE LOFT

He was found by armed officers hiding in the loft space of his grandparents’ home in [108] Peckham Park Road, Peckham, se London.

Both men were found guilty by the jury. Smug Sonnex smiled and shrugged his shoulders at Guy Bonomo, the father of Laurent, who had sat listening to weeks of horrific evidence about his son’s demise.

Sonnex was jailed for a minimum of 40 years. Farmer was given a minimum of 35 because of his age.

Jailing the pair, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders described the murders as ‘the worst crimes I have ever had to deal with’.

Neither man showed any emotion as they were jailed for life. Sonnex waved to his father Bernie and brother George in the public gallery as he swaggered to the cells.

The judge told them: ‘The misery and suffering that you have caused cannot be measured.

‘These are the worst crimes that I have ever had to deal with and unhappily no punishment that I can pass can ever bring any real comfort to thefamilies.’

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