A FRENCH hotel worker was found guilty of murdering his friend and burying him under a shed in Ellesmere Port.
Sebastian Bendou, 36, of no fixed abode, was found guilty by a jury of murdering Ryanair cabin steward Christophe Borgye in 2009.
Christophe's body was discovered in May 2013 buried in the outbuilding of a house in Hylton Court, wrapped in tarpaulin and encases in thick concrete.
The flight attendant, who is originally from Ronchin in France, had been reported missing to police by a work colleague in May 2009 but enquiries at the time led officers and his family to believe he had left the country.
However, four years later in May 2013, police made the shocking discovery after Bendou contacted the force and confessed to Christophe's murder.
He was taken to the property by officers and showed them where the body was concealed. A search of the property led to the discovery of a concrete structure in the outbuilding. A low brick wall had been built inside the structure to conceal the body with three separate layers of concrete placed over the body to bury it.
A post mortem concluded that Christophe died as a result of a number of blows to the head believed to have been from a hammer ? a hammer was also found buried alongside the body.
Christophe had moved to the UK in 2007 whilst employed as a flight attendant and, at that time, had lived in Liverpool with Bendou and another man ? Manuel Wagner.
In July 2008, all three moved to the address in Hylton Court.
A fourth man, Dominik Kocher - who was convicted of the murder in a separate trial earlier this year - also moved to a house on the same street with his family.
The incident is believed to have taken place in the kitchen of the property in April 2009.
Bendou claimed that Christophe had threatened him with a knife and he was acting in self-defence when he attacked Christophe with a hammer that was on the table.
Police say the motive for the murder remains unclear but they believe it was pre-meditated and stemmed from a row over money, with Kocher believed to be the driving force.
Detective Inspector Gwyn Dodd from the force?s Major Investigation Team said: "During the investigation it became clear that Kocher controlled the finances of the trio with Bendou and Wagner paying all of their wages into his bank account and dealing with everything relating to finances for them. Christophe paid some of his wages into Kocher?s bank account and also paid the rent on the property.
"Christophe was subsequently reported missing by a work colleague on May 17 2009. Numerous enquiries were carried out, which led officers and his family to believe he had left the country.
"The trio later left Ellesmere Port and the new tenants were told not to go into the outbuilding at the address in Hylton Court as the landlord used it to store personal property."
In August 2012 they all moved to Scotland as one big group, living at various temporary holiday accommodation addresses.
On May 13, 2013, Bendou fled Scotland and returned to Ellesmere Port where he contacted Cheshire Police.
Bendou was initially sectioned under the Mental Health Act following his arrest but was later deemed fit to stand trial.
DI Dodd added: "This has been a long and extremely complicated investigation from the start, not least due to the language barriers but also issues surrounding the body and how it had been concealed. Christophe?s body was found encased in concrete in a purpose built structure in the outbuilding, showing the cover-up was clearly planned.
"It was a painstaking process in recovering the body from the outbuilding and formally identifying it and there were numerous lines of enquiry which followed including mapping the movements and financial transactions of all those involved 5 years ago, the assistance of a wide range of experts including forensic archeologists, entomologists, cement experts, pathologists, psychiatrists, translators and financial investigators and interviews of witnesses from Germany, France, Scotland and Ireland.
"What is clear to me is that Kocher was the dominant force in the group, and had a controlling influence over the trio. He was instrumental in the cover up of the murder and leading people, including his family, into believing Christophe had simply moved away.
"The strain of their secret in the end proved too much for Bendou however, who ended up fleeing Scotland and returning to Ellesmere Port to face up to his crime."
Kocher, 35, from New Abbey in Dumfries, Scotland, was convicted of Christophe's murder at a trial earlier this year.
Manuel Wagner, aged 26, also from New Abbey in Dumfries, Scotland, has been found not guilty of assisting an offender and preventing a lawful burial.
Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service Mersey-Cheshire, said: "Bendou led us to the grisly tomb of Christophe Borgye and he is now facing the consequences of his role in this tragedy.
"Mr Borgye, Kocher and Bendou were all friends yet Kocher seemed to exert some strange influence over the others that we have never managed to get to the bottom of.
"Borgye and Bendou had their wages paid into Kocher's account and, in return, he seems to have managed their affairs.
"We may never know the reason why Bendou and Kocher killed My Borgye on that fateful day - the picture is too murky. But it seems likely that money was at the heart of it.
"Kocher bought knives in the days leading up to the killing and tarpaulin, bricks and cement. We?ve always maintained these were used in the killing and to then bury the body.
"This murder was planned, brutally executed and extensively covered up."
Statement from the family of Christophe Borgye
"Christophe's absence from our lives is terribly painful. We think about him everyday.
"We wonder about all the things he would have done throughout his life.
"Unfortunately, his killers have ended his hopes and dreams. He did not have the joy of being at his brother's wedding and the pleasure of getting to know his nephew born in 2011.
"We have taken note of the verdict in the first trial regarding the conviction of Dominik Kocher and we acknowledge the verdict in the second trial today.
"We would like to thank Cheshire Police for their great efforts rendered during the course of the investigation, for the attention and care they have offered us during this enquiry and whilst we have been in your country.
"We would also like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and the legal team as well as the Judge and juries."