London

Stefano Brizzi jailed for PC Gordon Semple's murder

Stefano Brizzi Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Stefano Brizzi admitted trying to dispose of PC Semple's body in an acid-filled bath

A man who strangled a Metropolitan Police officer before trying to dissolve his body in an acid-filled bath has been jailed for life.

Stefano Brizzi, from south London, admitted dismembering PC Gordon Semple, 59, while high on crystal meth.

The 50-year-old claimed PC Semple died accidentally during a sex game but an Old Bailey jury found him guilty of murder.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years in jail.

The Italian national claimed PC Semple, who was on duty at the time, had died on 1 April during a "sex game gone wrong" when a dog leash he was wearing had slipped.

However, the court heard it would have taken far longer for him to be strangled than Brizzi's account suggested.

Brizzi denied trying to cannibalise parts of PC Semple, from Greenhithe in Kent, by cooking and then biting into a rib found in his kitchen bin.

But at his sentencing, the prosecution said an expert odontologist had since confirmed that even though Brizzi claimed not to remember it, he had in fact tried to eat human flesh.

Police found "globules" of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of PC Semple's head, and pools of human fat in the oven.

Image copyright Gordon Semple
Image caption Gordon Semple, who was originally from Inverness, served with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years

He also told police he had "chucked" some of PC Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings.

The judge said there were "terrible features" of the case and that Brizzi's drug addiction had ruined his life.

He said: "Regret you express now for Mr Semple's death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body."

'Dixon of Dock Green'

The court heard Brizzi was obsessed with the American TV show Breaking Bad in which the protagonists Walter White and Jesse Pinkman dissolve a rival drug dealer in a bathtub filled with acid.

When police visited Brizzi's flat on the Peabody Estate in south London, he told them how he thought he was "getting away with it" and was planning to finish disposing of the body later that day.

In mitigation, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC blamed Brizzi's crystal meth addiction as she accepted the expert evidence.

She said Brizzi had "absolutely no recollection" of it and was "utterly horrified by it".

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Days after the murder, Brizzi was filmed buying buckets and cleaning products from a DIY store

The court heard Brizzi had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show "glorified" the drug.

The pair had arranged a "hot, dirty, sleazy session" having met on gay dating app Grindr.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, PC Semple's older brother, Ronald Semple, said his sibling had been regarded as a "Dixon of Dock Green character", a character from a police show which was broadcast in the 1960s and 1970s.

'Evil and calculating'

He said his brother had worked for the force for more than 30 years and enjoyed running marathons and organising trips to France for charity.

He was a "caring and gentle person" and "much loved" by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption CCTV footage showed PC Semple on his way to meeting Brizzi

Passing sentence the Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC, said: "The PCs on scene encountered something no amount of training could have prepared them for. I commend them both.

"Mr Semple was dearly loved by his family and friends and no sentence carried by this court can equate to the precious human life lost."

Chief Crown Prosecutor for London Baljit Ubhey said: "An evil and calculating man, Brizzi lied to the police and then to the court, claiming that Mr Semple's tragic death was caused when a sex game went horribly wrong."

She also paid tribute to how her team dealt with the challenging case, particularly considering the lengths Brizzi had gone to to remove traces of his crime.

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