Man Guilty Of Mum's 'Hair Fetish' Murder
5:04pm 29th June 2011
(Updated 4:05am 30th June 2011)
An Italian man has been found guilty of the hair-in-the-hand murder of Heather Barnett at her Bournemouth home in 2002.
Danilo Restivo, 39, was convicted by a jury of seven men and five women after just five hours of deliberation.
The body of Mrs Barnett, a mother-of-two, was badly mutilated. Her throat was cut from ear-to-ear and her breasts removed and placed on either side of her head.
Winchester Crown Court heard Restivo, who had a fetish for secretly cutting women's hair, killed her by hitting her over the head with a blunt object, possibly a hammer.
Bizarrely, some hair snipped from her own head was found below her left hand and a clump of hair belonging to an unknown person was left in her right hand.
The tests found traces of Restivo's DNA on it but the Italian claimed he had taken the towel over to the seamstress' house to provide a colour sample for a pair of curtains she was making for him.
In court, Mrs Barnett's daughter Caitlin sobbed quietly as the guilty verdict was handed down but Restivo showed no emotion.
He was remanded in custody by Mr Justice Burnett and the case adjourned until Thursday, when he will be sentenced.
Outside court, Mrs Barnett's sister said: "Heather would have been horrified by the cruel and callous way Danilo Restivo designed her murder and mutilation so her children would find her body on return from school."
Detective Superintendent Mark Cooper, who led the inquiry, added: "I believe that this dangerous predator had watched over Heather for some time and carefully planned this horrendous crime, even attempting to construct a false alibi to deceive the police.
"Despite his guilt, Restivo never moved away from his house that looked out onto Heather's property and, perhaps most chilling of all, he even consoled her two children the afternoon following his cold and calculated actions."
Dorset Police had suspected Restivo over the murder for many years but did not initially have enough evidence to charge him.
They carried out covert operations to keep the Italian under extensive observation, including bugging his house and car.
He was finally arrested on May 19 last year, shortly after the discovery of the body of Elisa Claps, an Italian girl missing since 1993, in the loft of a church in Potenza, Italy.
Restivo knew the 16-year-old girl and admitted to Italian investigators at the time that he loved her but she had rejected him. He was also the last person to see her alive.
The prosecution argued there were "striking and dramatic" similarities between the two killings. Strands of hair were found by both victims' bodies.
Prosecutor Michael Bowes QC told the jury in his closing speech that although Restivo had an obsession with cutting hair, he did not actually care about women.
He also said the Italian was forensically savvy and the murder of his neighbour, Mrs Barnett, was not a spur of the moment act of violence but a pre-meditated killing.