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Breaking Bad fan Stefano Brizzi found guilty of murder of Pc Gordon Semple

Published 14/11/2016

CCTV of Stefano Brizzi purchasing items at the Leyland Store in Southwark Street, London
CCTV of Stefano Brizzi purchasing items at the Leyland Store in Southwark Street, London

A Breaking Bad fan who strangled a police officer during a bondage sex session and tried to dispose of the body in an acid bath has been convicted of murder.

Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh.

Following an Old Bailey trial, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after the jury had deliberated for more than 30 hours.

Brizzi, who gave no reaction as the jury delivered its verdict, will be sentenced on Friday, December 9.

The court heard how the defendant met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a "hot dirty sleazy session" at his flat near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1.

According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing as part of a sex game slipped.

But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed.

In the days after the killing, crystal meth addict Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body and stripping the flesh.

Meanwhile, Pc Semple's long-term partner Gary Meeks raised the alarm and reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, in Kent.

Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi's flat and eventually called police who came across the grisly sight of "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.

Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found.

The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat.

Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of a policeman because "Satan told me to".

During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr.

Brizzi said: "I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him 'Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it's a mess'."

The Italian also told police that he had "chucked" some of Pc Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings.

A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall.

The court heard that Brizzi was addicted to crystal meth, which had cost him his job at financial giant Morgan Stanley.

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

He told the group he believed in the Devil and liked satanic rituals and he bragged of his bondage sex encounters.

In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple's DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible.

Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors of the difficulties of being a gay man brought up in a religious Italian family. The youngest of three siblings, his Tuscan father was a civil servant and his uncle was a Catholic priest.

He told jurors that Pc Semple died in a "state of erotic bliss".

his lawyer, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, insisted he was no "monster" and could not have eaten Pc Semple's flesh as it was covered in chemicals.

Throughout his evidence, Brizzi wept and cried out "I'm sorry" as he was confronted with what he had done.

He had earlier admitted a charge of obstructing a coroner by disposing of the body. Pc Semple's brain and other internal organs have never been found.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: "Stefano Brizzi is an evil and calculating man who intentionally killed Gordon Semple and then made gruesome attempts to dispose of his body.

"He cynically lied to the court and the jury claiming that Mr Semple's tragic death was caused when a sex game went horribly wrong and that he had taken drugs which caused him to try to cover up the death. This was all fabricated by Brizzi to evade justice.

"In taking steps to fully understand Brizzi's lifestyle, we scrutinised many thousands of social media messages. Piecing together the events of that evening was equally challenging, bearing in mind the extreme lengths that Brizzi went to to remove traces of his crime and cover his tracks.

"However, built on the foundation of a strong police investigation, and detailed toxicology and pathology evidence, we put a very strong case before the court and Brizzi has now been brought to justice for his terrible crimes."

Pc Semple's family said in a statement: "Gordon was a loyal and much loved long term partner, brother, brother in law, uncle, cousin and friend to all.

"We were devastated when the news broke of Gordon's murder and the circumstances which are still incredibly hard to deal with. It is still insurmountably upsetting.

"At Gordon's funeral we met many of his friends and work colleagues - we were proud to hear how fondly they thought of Gordon.

"Gordon will be sadly missed by our family. Gordon, we miss you so much, may you rest in peace."

Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling said: "The responding officers and all those involved in the investigation into Gordon's death have been affected by it, made all the worse by knowing he was a colleague.

"Sadly, it is clear from the investigation that Gordon, a man who had dedicated the last three decades of his life to policing London, was behaving on duty in a way that no police officer should. Gordon held a position of trust, and he broke that trust.

"However, nothing should distract from the actions of Stefano Brizzi and the blame for Gordon's death lies firmly with this man. A killer whose cold calculated actions are so grotesque they are beyond comprehension."

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