AN Italian court has convicted a man with a fetish for cutting off women’s hair of the 1993 murder of a teenager, only months after he received a life sentence in Britain for a similarly gruesome killing.
The court in Salerno near Naples sentenced Danilo Restivo, who was tried in absentia, to 30 years in prison for the death of 16-year-old Elisa Claps, whose decomposed body was found last year on the roof of a church where she was last seen 18 years ago.
In June, the 39-year-old was sentenced in England to life without parole for killing and mutilating his neighbour Heather Barnett in Bournemouth in 2002.
The ritualistic murder – in which Mrs Barnett’s breasts were cut off and strands of hair placed in her hands – echoed the Claps murder. Restivo, who is in prison in the UK, denied the charges.
After the verdict Elisa Claps’s mother Filomena issued an appeal to Restivo to “tell the truth” about her daughter’s death.
Restivo’s lawyer Marnio Marinelli told reporters that they did not expect a guilty verdict, and refused to make any further comment, the news agency ANSA reported.
The court will issue its reasoning within 90 days, at which time the defence can appeal.
Elisa Claps vanished from her hometown of Potenza, a regional capital about 225 miles south of Rome in September 1993.
She was last seen in the Most Holy Trinity church in downtown Potenza with Restivo, an acquaintance who later acknowledged that he had spent about 10 minutes in the church with her before leaving.
Her decomposed remains were discovered in a corner of a hard-to-reach rooftop garret of the church in March 2010 by maintenance workers who had climbed to the roof to fix a leak.
Restivo was convicted in Britain in June of murdering 48-year-old Mrs Barnett and leaving her body for her two children, then 11 and 14, to find in the bathroom.
According to testimony, Restivo bludgeoned Mrs Barnett with a hammer before cutting her throat. He then cut off her breasts and left a clump of someone else’s hair in her right hand and some of her own underneath her left hand in a ritualistic murder.
The jury agreed the manner of Mrs Barnett’s murder was Restivo’s “hallmark”.
Some of the jurors wept as they heard the victim impact statements read on behalf of Mrs Barnett’s daughter and sister.
Passing sentence in June, Mr Justice Burnett told Restivo he could find no mitigation in the case and he would, therefore, never be released from prison.