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Danilo Restivo jailed for life for hair in hand murder

30 June 11 14:19
Danilo Restivo

A fetishist who murdered and mutilated a Bournemouth mother before leaving someone else's hair in her hand will never be released from prison.

Italian national Danilo Restivo, 39, killed Heather Barnett, 48, in 2002 in a "depraved" attack then comforted her children after they found the body.

During the trial, Restivo was also linked to the murder of Elisa Claps, 16, who went missing in Italy in 1993.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court convicted Restivo on Wednesday.

They had heard that Restivo, of Chatsworth Road, Bournemouth, entered Ms Barnett's flat and bludgeoned her with a hammer before cutting her throat in November 2002.

Restivo, who admitted he had cut women's hair as he liked the touch and smell of it, put a clump of someone's hair in one of her hands and strands of her own hair under the other, the jury was told.

Sentencing Restivo, Mr Justice Burnett told him the murder was of "inhuman depravity" and so serious that no minimum term would be appropriate.

'Sadistic sexual appetite'

He said: "The seriousness of this offence is exceptionally high - namely the depravity of the killing, the careful planning and preparation, its sexual content and the previous killing of Elisa Claps - drive me to the conclusion that the alternative starting point [for a minimum prison term] of 30 years would not be appropriate.

"I can find no mitigation in this case, none have been advanced on your behalf.

"There is, in my judgement, no minimum period which could be properly set - you will never be released from prison."

He said it was made worse by the fact that Restivo would have known his victim's children would find her body.

Mr Burnett added: "You knew an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy would find their mother butchered on the bathroom floor.

"This feature of the case will haunt those who sat through it.

"Why you picked Heather Barnett as your victim I do not know but it's clear that you did so to satisfy a sadistic sexual appetite.

"The evidence in this case shows you are a cold, depraved, calculated killer."

During the trial the court heard he had comforted Ms Barnett's children after they discovered their mother's body on their return from school.

Extradited to Italy

All 12 members of the jury chose to return to court this morning to hear Restivo's sentence.

Some of them wept as they heard the victim impact statements read on behalf of Ms Barnett's daughter and sister.

Ms Barnett's daughter Caitlin Marsh, now 19, said in her statement: "How could he intrude into our safe and happy family home and then take everything from us in such a horrific and callous way?"

"A particularly difficult day was when I first saw Danilo sat in the witness box, looking up into the public gallery.

"This was the first time I had come face-to-face with mum's killer. He showed no emotion and no remorse."

It emerged during the trial that Ms Barnett raised concerns to her older sister Denise Le Voir about Restivo, who lived opposite her.

The prosecution said the manner in which Ms Barnett was killed could be considered Restivo's "hallmark" and linked him to the case of Miss Claps.

Her trousers and underwear were lowered to the same level as those of Ms Barnett, and her bra was cut in the same way.

Miss Claps went missing after meeting Restivo at the Church of Holy Trinity in Potenza, southern Italy, after Mass on 12 September 1993.

Her body was found in the loft of the church last year.

Miss Claps is due to be buried on Saturday following an open air funeral service in her home town of Potenza, nearly 18 years after she was killed.

The Italian authorities have issued a European Arrest Warrant and it is expected that Restivo, who denies killing Miss Claps, will now be extradited to Italy to stand trial for her murder.

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