A MAN who bludgeoned a grandmother to death in a burglary-gone-wrong has been jailed for life. The killing of artist Valerie Graves, 55, at Christmas time in 2013 shocked the small village of Bosham in West Sussex. Graves had just moved down from Scotland to be closer to her family. She spent Christmas there but was found dead on December 30.

Graves was found with extensive head injuries, caused by forces similar to a road crash, a court heard, in a ground-floor bedroom of a £1.6 million property where she was house-sitting.

Cristian Sabou, previously of Dej, Romania, pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard it was not until July this year that Sabou was arrested in Romania and charged and extradited to the UK.

The 28-year-old Sabou appeared in the packed courtroom flanked by three security guards.

Speaking through an interpreter, he pleaded guilty to a charge of murder.

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC told the court that Sabou had entered the house as a would-be burglar, expecting it to be empty.

The court heard he had been told that a safe in the house contained a large amount of cash and ingots.

When he entered the home he found Graves, and attacked her. Sabou struck her with a hammer, causing horrific injuries to her head as she tried to defend herself.

Bennetts told the court that the breakthrough in the case came when Sabou’s partner saw him looking at his mobile phone and becoming agitated in July 2018.

He said: “She looked at the phone and there was a search result for the murder.”

Opening the page, she found a picture of the hammer recovered by police and confirmed as the murder weapon. She recognised it as looking like the one Sabou had previously owned.

Police were contacted and Sabou was detained on a European Arrest Warrant. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years.