Hair Fetishist Will Spend Whole Life In Jail
5:04am 30th June 2011
(Updated 2:05am 1st July 2011)
An Italian man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the hair-in-the-hand murder of Heather Barnett.
Danilo Restivo, 39, was handed a whole-life sentence by Mr Justice Burnett, who described the crime as one of "inhuman depravity".
He told Restivo in court: "The evidence in this case shows you are a cold, depraved, calculated killer.
"You knew an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy would find their mother butchered on the bathroom floor.
"Why you picked Heather Barnett as your victim I do not know but it's clear that you did so to satisfy a sadistic, sexual appetite.
"There is, in my judgement, no minimum period which could be properly set - you will never be released from prison."
Restivo was convicted on Wednesday by a jury of seven men and five women after just five hours of deliberation.
The trial at Winchester Crown Court heard how he bludgeoned Mrs Barnett with a hammer before cutting her throat at her Bournemouth home in 2002.
He then cut off the mother-of-two's breasts and left them on either side of her head.
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.
Mrs Barnett's two children Caitlin Marsh, now 19, and Terry, 23, found her body on their return home from school.
Restivo, wearing a suit and a tie, showed no emotion as he heard the sentence and the statements read on behalf of his victim's family.
Mrs Barnett's daughter said in a statement that life "changed forever" for her and her brother when their mother was killed.
She said: "I used to have nightmares and flashbacks reminding me of the events of the 12th November.
"I also don't like going into bathrooms. I used to think that someone might be waiting for me. Now I just hold a fear of what's behind the bathroom door."
She added that she has not returned to the house she had grown up in since the murder as "it reminds me too much of the horror".
Tears swelled in the eyes of many in the court as her statement continued: "My mum has been taken from me.
"I will never get the chance again to tell her how much I love her and how much I now miss her."
Speaking outside the court, Mrs Barnett's sister Denise Le Voir and brother Ben Barnett welcomed the sentence and described Restivo as "cold and callous".
Detective Superintendent Mark Cooper, who led the inquiry, said it had been "complex and challenging".
He 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 of 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.
He is now subject to a European Arrest Warrant and is expected to be extradited back to Italy to stand trial for Elisa's murder.