A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a grandmother found bludgeoned to death in a £1.6 million mansion nearly six years ago.

Artist Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead in bed at around 10am on December 30 2013 on the ground floor of a seaside house in Bosham, West Sussex.

Cristian Sabou, 27, appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court this morning after he was held on a European Arrest Warrant last week at his home in Dej, in the north-west of his native Romania.

He was flanked by two security officers as he stood in the dock, wearing a patterned white t-shirt and with short hair and stubble, and showed no reaction as the charge was read out.

With the help of a Romanian interpreter, he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and nationality.

No plea was entered during the five-minute hearing and the presiding justice, Barney Miller, remanded Sabou in custody ahead of a hearing at Lewes Crown Court on July 23.

Sussex Police said Sabou was extradited to the UK on Friday.

He allegedly murdered Ms Graves - who had moved from Scotland to Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex, shortly before her death - between December 28 and 31, according to the charge read out in court.

Ms Graves died just days after her birthday, which was on Christmas Day, while house-sitting at the mansion in Smuggler's Lane with her mother Eileen, sister Jan and sister's partner Nigel Acres.

The house belonged to family friends the Chamberlains, who were on holiday in Costa Rica for Christmas.

Ms Graves was last seen alive at around 10pm the night before she was discovered, and there were no signs of a struggle.

A post-mortem examination found she had severe head injuries after being hit with a claw hammer, probably at around midnight.