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Mother pays tribute to Islington barrister found dead in Thames on Friday

PUBLISHED: 13:40 12 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:46 12 November 2013

Gianni Sonvico, with mother Karen, left, and younger sister Maya

Gianni Sonvico, with mother Karen, left, and younger sister Maya

Archant

The mother of a newly qualified barrister found dead in the Thames on Friday has paid tribute to her son.

The body of Gianni Sonvico, 23, was found in the water at Greenwich Pier at approximately 10am, Friday November 8 – two weeks after he was reported missing.

Police are thought to be treating his death as a tragic accident, but it remains unclear what happened to the young barrister.

Mr Sonvico’s mother, Karen Chandler, a 51-year-old charity worker from Pembrokeshire in Wales, said: “My happiest times with Gianni were watching box sets with him – either glued to The Sopranos on my sofa, or watching The Wire in different countries but simultaneously, texting constantly.

“We have received incredible support from Gianni’s friends in London, childhood friends who travelled to London to help with the search, his colleagues and the wider legal community, which clearly cared for one of ‘their own’.”

Mr Sonvico was last seen at 11pm on Friday October 25 leaving Tower Hill tube station, after attending a social function for young barristers. A Facebook group urging anyone with information to come forward was joined by more than 2,000 people. Mr Sonvico’s sister, Maya, 22, also launched an appeal on YouTube.

Mr Sonvico graduated from Queen Mary University of London before completing his Bar Professional Training Course at Kaplan Law School this summer.

“Someone said to me recently that, where others looked down, Gianni always looked up. He was single-minded in his ambition to be a criminal defence barrister, partly because to him it represented the purest form of advocacy, and partly because of a passionate belief in the British justice system, and that everyone should have proper representation,” said Mrs Chandler.

“Gianni was involved in the campaign against legal aid cuts which he saw as a real threat to this [the justice system], and the only fitting legacy for my son would be if everyone redoubled their efforts to oppose them.”

Mr Sonvico was also an avid Arsenal supporter and lived near the club’s Emirates Stadium in Highbury. Mrs Chandler said that Arsenal and their current position at the top of the league was a source of “happiness in Gianni’s life” and that he “was a proud season ticket holder”.

Mrs Chandler described her son as “sarcastic, acerbic, articulate and someone who really cared about people but tried his very best to hide it.

“He was resilient. And his friends constantly describe to me how much he was loving his life, and grabbing it with both hands.”


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