A murderer claims his housemate struck the first blow in the brutal killing of an air steward in Ellesmere Port.
Convict Sebastien Bendou told a courtroom Manuel Wagner was part of a sick plot to attack Christophe Borgye and bury him in a homemade tomb under a shed.
Both Bendou, 39, and the ‘ringleader’ Dominik Kocher, 37, have been jailed for life for Mr Borgye’s murder in April 2009.
Now Wagner, 28, from Toxteth, who had previously not been charged over a lack of evidence, is on trial for his alleged involvement in the killing.
Bendou told Liverpool Crown Court the trio lured their victim into the kitchen at the house in Hylton Court where tarpaulin had been laid down ready to wrap up his body.
Wagner had to deal the first blow as he had a ‘sexual relationship’ with Mr Borgye and this was something the ‘manipulative’ Kocher could not stand, the court heard.
Bendou said: “I was in the corridor and heard Manuel hit the first blow with a hammer.
“I had a paring knife in my pocket. I knew I had to follow him.
“I went into the kitchen and saw Manuel hit him a further 10 times. Christophe was shouting ‘Stop! Stop!’.”
Kocher then stepped in and stabbed Mr Borgye in the throat, the court heard.
Bendou said: “Then it was my turn.
“My knife broke on his throat and I let it fall. I grabbed hold of Manuel’s hammer and gave him three hits as he fell to the floor.
“I gave the fatal blow.”
French nationals Kocher and Bendou knew each other from their time growing up in Strasbourg. Wagner is Kocher’s cousin.
Bendou moved to Liverpool in 2005 and was joined in England by his alleged accomplices a few months later.
Kocher along with his wife and children lived in one house.
Bendou, Wagner and Mr Borgye, who they had not known previously lived in another close by and initially there were ‘no problems’.
They did not see much of Mr Borgye though as he worked different hours as an air steward with Ryanair.
The group moved around Liverpool and eventually to Ellesmere Port always with the two houses close by and eventually opposite on Hylton Court.
‘Clever’ Kocher was the ‘organiser’ for his two associates and ensured they did not have to cook for themselves, their bills were sorted and even their laundry was done.
Both Bendou and Wagner worked as kitchen porters and all of their wages went directly to him.
Kocher fed his ‘recruits’ lies that Mr Borgye was a French Government spy and the reason his family was being hassled with letters about their rising debt.
Bendou, who was helped with his evidence by a translator, said: “I was manipulated. I believed it at the time.
“It changed my relationship was Christophe and I was scared of him. Dominik told Manuel the same things.”
Kocher also told Bendou his two housemates were having a ‘sexual relationship’, but the witness said he saw ‘no evidence’ of this himself.
The ‘ringleader’ spent weeks planning the murder, buying bricks, cement and stones to make the ‘chamber’ as well as three paring knives.
On the morning of the killing the trio went together to Travis Perkins to get the final supplies, the court heard.
While Bendou and Wagner wrapped up the body and carried it to the shed, Kocher mixed the cement he would pour in to seal the chamber shut, the jury were told.
Entombed with Mr Borgye’s corpse were two paring knives, the broken handle and the hammer.
John McDermott QC asked Bendou how he felt in the following days.
He replied: “I was ashamed. I never talked about what happened with Manuel.”
Wagner was previously cleared of assisting an offender and preventing a lawful burial. The jury in that case never heard evidence from Bendou.
They both stayed in the same house until January 2012 after a succession of new roommates had come and gone.
Kocher had locked the outhouse and kept hold of the key himself.
Mr Borgye was only found after Bendou, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, went to the police to reveal it almost four years later.
Wagner denies a charge of murder. The trial continues.