“We have had to endure six years of waiting, not knowing if anyone would ever be brought to justice for this cowardly act."
These were the words of the family of Valerie Graves, after the Bosham grandmother's killer was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 24 years, today (Monday, November 11).
Cristian Sabou, previously of Dej, Romania, pleaded guilty to Valerie's murder when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court, according to Sussex Police.
Valerie, a 55-year-old mother and grandmother, was bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of a luxury home, where she was house-sitting, in Smuggler’s Lane, Bosham in December 2013.
After the sentencing, Valerie's family read a statement outside the court.
According to Sussex Police, the statement read: “This has been a devastating experience for the whole family and today we feel that justice has finally been served.
“We have had to endure six years of waiting, not knowing if anyone would ever be brought to justice for this cowardly act.
“Val, our mum, was very much loved by our family and is sorely missed by all of us. She was a kind and caring person who had little conflict in her life, her murder was incomprehensible to us all. Her death still remains deeply distressing and we find it hard to understand why he chose to take her life in the manner in which he did.
“You took away our mum, who was also a sister, daughter, gran and friend to many — a life of someone who can never be replaced.
“Sadly, Val’s mother passed away never knowing that justice has been served.
“We hope that while he is serving his sentence he will reflect on the actions he took and what this has done to our family.
"We would like to thank Sussex Police, especially Detective Chief Inspector Jon Fanner, Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Taylor, Detective Inspector Wendy Burton, Detective Constable Jon Woolley, Detective Constable Polly Sweeney and the rest of the team that have worked tirelessly over the last six years to bring our family closure and justice.”
DCI Fanner, the senior investigating officer, said he and his colleagues never lost hope that they would catch the person responsible for Valerie's death.
He said: "Since the tragic murder of Valerie in December 2013, we have never given up hope that we would solve the case and achieve justice for Valerie and her family.
“Valerie was a loved mother and grandmother who was enjoying time with her family at Christmas when her life was brutally brought to an end.
“My thoughts and sympathies are with Valerie’s family and friends who have always supported our investigation, showing strength, patience and dignity during a traumatic period of their lives."
DCI Fanner said the sentence came after a 'lengthy and complex case' involving a huge number of enquiries and the 'biggest mass DNA screening process the force has ever carried out'.
“Although Sabou admitted killing Valerie, it was only when he was finally arrested over five years later," he added. "He will now face many years in prison.
“I hope Valerie’s family will be able to find some peace, knowing that her killer is finally behind bars.
"I would like to thank colleagues from Cellmark Forensics who provided valuable assistance and the forensic breakthrough with the DNA analysis.
"Also the Crown Prosecution Service, National Crime Agency and Romanian National Police, all of whom worked tirelessly to bring Sabou to justice."