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Uber driver Googled 'most painful place to stab someone' before murdering wife

Jose Leonardo
Jose Leonardo

A cruel Uber cab driver who killed his wife after trawling the internet for "the most painful place to stab someone" has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years.

Jose Leonardo, 56, was found guilty of murdering mother-of-three Maria Mbombo, 52, at their home in Belsize Park, west London, on May 18.

Prosecutor John Price QC told Old Bailey jurors Ms Mbombo died at the scene after suffering multiple stab wounds.

He said there was no dispute that Leonardo killed her, but he has claimed it was manslaughter by "loss of control".

The couple met in Holland in 1988 and moved to north-west London in 1993.

At the time of her death, Ms Mbombo was working as a cleaner while the defendant was a driver for the internet-based company Uber.

At nearly midnight on May 18, the couple's 23-year-old son Carl Mbombo called 999 in tears and paramedics arrived to find him trying to resuscitate his mother on the floor of a bedroom.

The victim, who was wearing a white top and black knickers, was covered in blood and had been dead for "some while", Mr Price said.

She had been alone with the defendant until her children returned home shortly before the 999 call, the court heard.

Earlier that afternoon, the defendant's mobile phone was used to search Google for "can I survive stab in the eye" and "most painful place to stab someone".

The defendant was in his flat with his dead or dying wife for an hour or so as his other son Jacques, 27, banged on the door and screamed to get in.

After slipping out, Leonardo tried to buy a bottle of beer in a nearby convenience store but was refused.

The shopkeeper noticed blood on his jacket and asked "what's that?", and Leonardo allegedly replied: "Just call the police."

Officers arrived to find Leonardo wearing a white vest drenched in blood and murmuring "my wife is dead".

Mr Price told jurors: "For all his statements of grief to the police officers at the hospital, the defendant, who will have been with her in their home whilst she slowly died, did nothing to summon help."

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Aisling Hosein said: "Leonardo was a possessive, controlling and abusive man with a history of violence against his wife Maria.

"He set out on May 18 to murder her and stabbed her repeatedly with a knife.

"The nature of the wounds meant she will have slowly bled to death, but he made no attempt to call for help.

"He claimed he had been provoked by his wife to lose control during an argument, and was instead guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

"However, the prosecution was able to prove he had planned the attack earlier in the day, which showed clear intent.

"This is a cruel man whose actions have had tragic consequences, ripping apart a family and leaving three children without a mother."

Met Detective Inspector Simon Deefholts said: "Leonardo has never revealed the exact events of that day in Maitland Park Villas and tried to claim in his defence that he lost control before launching the attack.

"However, our investigation revealed that Leonardo had a history of violence towards Maria, including another incident where Maria sustained three knife wounds while on a visit to Belgium in March 2016.

"No offences were reported to police in the UK but it is clear that Leonardo was a violent man who could not control his temper."