Thursday, July 3, 2008

French students tortured and stabbed 250 times in Tarantino-style raid on London home

hey were two brilliant young men, already marked out as among the most gifted of their generation.

But just eight weeks after arriving in this country from their native France they were murdered in a frenzy of barbaric violence.

Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, were tied to chairs, tortured, stabbed an appalling 243 times in the head, chest and back and finally set on fire.

A subsequent explosion - described as a 'gun crack' by neighbours - left a pair of charred, mutilated bodies that could only be identified from DNA.

The murder of the two bio-engineering students, who had been invited to Britain to take part in ground-breaking scientific research, has stunned hardened detectives.

It also sent shockwaves across France where the loss of two of the country's finest young minds was seen as proof of Britain's spiral into knife-obsessed lawlessness.

Police believe the students, who were found on Sunday night, may simply have been the victims of a bungled burglary at Mr Bonomo's flat in New Cross, South London.

Six days before the murders, Mr Bonomo disturbed an intruder who stole a laptop as he took an early morning shower.

Police are examining the possibility that a drug-addicted burglar later returned to the ground floor flat and subjected the men to an unimaginable ordeal.

Details of the theft theory, described by sources as a 'strong line of inquiry', emerged as the full horror of the killings was revealed by Scotland Yard.

One source said last night officers were still unsure if one or more killers were involved. But he added: 'We expect to make an arrest sooner rather than later.'

Mr Bonomo was stabbed 196 times, with up to 100 wounds inflicted on his back after death.

Mr Ferez, who lived several miles away in Thornton Heath, suffered 47 separate injuries.

Detectives are trying to establish whether Mr Bonomo was already being tortured when Mr Ferez turned up at his friend's flat, or whether they were targeted at the same time.

Post mortem examinations found the men were stabbed in the head, neck and chest.

Sources said both had been bound and gagged some time before 10pm on Sunday.

Investigators believe an accelerant was poured on or near their bodies, possibly to destroy evidence, and the flat set alight, causing a minor explosion.

One detective compared the killings to a Quentin Tarantino film.

He said: 'The scale of the violence is extraordinary. This was like a scene from a Tarantino gangster film but these men were not criminals. These were two talented and innocent men who had no history of criminality.'

The victims are believed to have been playing computer games when they were attacked by one or more men in Sterling Gardens, a normally quiet road in New Cross.

There was no evidence of forced entry.

Detectives said Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez were 'entirely innocent', with no criminal background in France or Britain.

They added there was nothing 'immediately obvious' in their private lives which could explain why someone would want to cause them so much suffering.

A visibly shocked Detective Chief Inspector Mick Duthie, the officer in charge of the inquiry, said: 'The extent of the injuries are horrific. I have never seen injuries like this throughout my career.'

Mr Duthie said police were hunting a white man seen running from the flats shortly after the explosion. But they have not ruled out that others may have been involved.

He added: 'I would not say this was a professional attack. I would say it was a frenzied, horrible, horrific-attack. I imagine it would take some considerable amount of time to inflict the nature of the injuries.'

Last night a neighbour who lived above the murder scene told of the moment when he realised the flat below was burning.

Henry Chuks, 32, said: 'I was watching television with my wife when I heard two or three loud bangs at about 10pm, it sounded like someone had dropped something really heavy.

'The whole building was shaking. It sounded like a big fridge had fallen down.'

Mr Bonomo and Mr Ferez had won three-month internships at Imperial College, London, following glittering academic careers.

Both were graduates of colleges linked to the cole Polytechnique, the state-run institution founded in 1794 which is viewed as the most prestigious engineering college in France.

They were due to return home later this month.

Mr Bonomo - who was called 'Lolo' - was known to be alive in the early hours of Sunday morning because he spoke to his fiancee Mary Bertez in France.

Last night the 23-year-old French literature student left an internet tribute.

She wrote: 'My love, we were always together but unfortunately I wasn't there that evening.

'I will never stop thinking about you for a second. I had 10 months of a happiness I had never experienced-until then. Today you are gone. I will try to be as good as you always wanted.

'I will give all the required information to the investigation, my dear, so you can be avenged. I love you my darling from the depths of my heart.'

She was said to be 'devastated beyond belief'. A friend said: 'Her world has fallen apart.'

The families of the murdered students travelled to London to identify their sons but were too traumatised to talk. Police said they were returning home immediately.


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