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Acid bath murder accused may have eaten part of dead police officer

Stefano Brizzi
Stefano Brizzi

A sadomasochist may have cooked and eaten parts of police officer Gordon Semple after strangling him at his flat, a court has heard.

Stefano Brizzi is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of throttling the 59-year-old officer he had met on gay dating app Grindr and then attempting to dispose of the body in a variety of ways, including in an acid bath.

DNA from the alleged victim was found on the blade of a blender, cooking pot, chopsticks, chopping board and grease in the oven of the 50-year-old Italian's kitchen, the Old Bailey heard.

Investigators also found there were bite marks on a piece of bone recovered from the kitchen bin at Brizzi's home and evidence that one of his legs had been burned, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told jurors: "So, the defendant cannot have confined himself to dismembering Gordon Semple and disposing of his body either by acid in the bath or else in the dustbins.

"Instead, the prosecution suggest it would be open to the jury to find that the defendant cooked part of his body and ate it."

Pc Semple, 59, was on duty when he arranged to meet Brizzi, via Grindr, for "hot, dirty, sleazy" sex on the afternoon of April 1.

Following the alleged murder, neighbours on the Peabody Estate in south London noticed a "revolting smell" coming from Brizzi's flat.

On April 7, Brizzi was described by his neighbour Martin Harris as being "cool as a cucumber" when he stopped by to inform him police had been called "because of the stench", the court heard.

Two officers arrived to find bottles of chemicals scattered in the hall and "blue-green liquid" in the bath with "flesh-coloured globules floating in the water", Mr Aylett said.

One of the officers looked inside a bin liner on the floor and saw a human hand and part of a spine, the court heard.

The defendant said he had HIV and had been told by Satan to "kill, kill, kill", jurors heard.

Talking to the officers at his flat, Brizzi allegedly said: "I was talking online about Satan as a fetish - and crystal meth takes me to Satan.

Gordon Semple

"I am from a Catholic family so when I found I was gay, I found out I was from Satan. I loved crystal meth and wanted to meet someone who talked about Satan."

He explained that he did not like Mr Semple, who had been fat and ugly, the court heard.

Brizzi later allegedly claimed he had disposed of some body parts he had been unable to break up by taking them on his bicycle to a quiet spot by the River Thames.

He allegedly told police he had been unable to dissolve the "flabbery" bits with chemicals and had tried to flush them down the toilet.

Asked what was still at the flat, Brizzi said there was a foot, hand and leg "which I tried to roast as well", the court was told.

Pc Semple's head was also at the flat but Brizzi flushed the lungs down the toilet, the court heard.

A human foot was later discovered by the Thames riverbank at Bermondsey Wall and body matter recovered from drainpipes in Brizzi's block.

Officers returned to the flat days later and recovered from his computer items including The Satanic Bible ebook, the jury heard.

Mr Aylett suggested a perforated metal sheet Brizzi bought from a DIY store had been used as a "grater" to strip flesh from the alleged victim's body.

Inside the oven was a pool of Pc Semple's body fat and there was evidence of heat damage to one of his legs, the court heard.

Some body parts, including internal organs, muscle, fat and skin were not recovered, the court was told.

While in the custody suite after his arrest, Brizzi allegedly said: "I thought I was getting away with it. I had nearly finished but I took a shot (of crystal meth). I was going to finish the job today.

"As you can see, this man was a very big man and all I have left is two buckets."

As an officer typed up the custody record, the defendant added: "And another thing. Just one thing, my bathtub has been unusable for day. I would appreciate a shower."

A post-mortem examination revealed evidence of GHB and sedative ketamine in Pc Semple's remains.

Brizzi denies murder but has admitted obstructing a coroner by dismembering and disposing of the body.

Jurors heard that Pc Semple and Brizzi engaged in sexual conduct that involved the alleged victim having a leash put around his neck.

Mr Aylett said: "As the defendant did so, it is claimed that the leash slipped. It was then that the defendant realised that Mr Semple was no longer breathing.

"The defendant says that Mr Semple had no pulse, the defendant was unable to rouse him."

He added: "Whether it was done as part of some satanic ritual, or whether it occurred in the course of sexual activity - as the defendant now says - or whether any drugs that the defendant had taken had made him paranoid, the prosecution allege that the defendant deliberately strangled Gordon Semple.

"Having murdered him, he went on to dismember his body before attempting to dispose of it in circumstances that amount to cannibalism."