Heather Barnett's Killer Gets Life

Danilo Restivo has been given a whole life sentence for the murder of Heather Barnett - the 39 year old Italian left a clump of somebody else's hair in the mum of two's hand after killing her in her Bournemouth flat in 2002.

The trial heard that Restivo entered the flat of his neighbour Mrs Barnett in Charminster in November 2002 and bludgeoned her with a hammer before cutting her throat.

He then left a clump of someone else's hair in her right hand and some of her own underneath her left hand in the carefully planned ritualistic murder considered unique by detectives.

He left the body for Mrs Barnett's children, Caitlin, then 11, and Terry, then 14, to find in the bathroom.

Restivo even claimed he comforted the horrified youngsters as they fled the scene just as he arrived home opposite.

Winchester Crown Court

At Winchester Crown Court, the jury of five women and seven men agreed with the prosecution that the manner of Mrs Barnett's murder was Restivo's "hallmark'' and linked the killing to the murder of Elisa, who disappeared in Potenza, Italy, in September 1993, even though he was not charged with it.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, told the court:

"The prosecution's case is that the circumstances in which Elisa Claps was killed so closely resemble the circumstances in which Heather Barnett was killed that you can have no doubt that both of the killings must have been the work of one person - that is Danilo Restivo.''

Speaking outside court, Denise Le Voir and Ben Barnett - Mrs Barnett's sister and brother - welcomed the sentence.

Heather's sister Denise and brother Ben

Ms Le Voir said: "It seems to have been a highly unusual case throughout and we were really pleased to hear the judge decide it really warranted a whole life term so he will never be a danger to the public again."

She described how they had chosen, along with Caitlin, to sit in the main court in order to look Restivo in the eye.

She said: "I was getting no reaction from Mr Restivo at all, he was quite impassive. That goes with the kind of person he is, cold and callous.

"Caitlin was very keen to be in the court, she did want to look at Mr Restivo, but there was no chance of looking him in the eye because there was no recognition from him.

"Caitlin has seen justice for her mother, which is the most important thing."

Mr Barnett added: "I could see no other sentence that would fit.

"The man is dangerous to society and needs to be taken out of society.

"If that is the most a court can give him, then justice has been served."

She said that both the Claps and Barnett families were happy Restivo was now behind bars.

Detective Superintendent Mark Cooper, who the led the investigation, said the inquiry had been "complex and challenging''.

"This was a horrendous and brutal murder and I cannot even begin to describe him (Restivo),'' he said.

Danilo Restivo