An “evil and calculating” cannibal killer has been jailed for life for strangling a police officer during a bondage sex session and then cooking and trying to eat him.
Breaking Bad fan Stefano Brizzi, 50, killed 59-year-old Gordon Semple at his flat in south London after hooking up on gay dating app Grindr in April.
Officers called to Brizzi’s flat to investigate a foul stench discovered the gruesome scene of globules of flesh in the bath and bags of dismembered body parts.
During his trial at the Old Bailey, the Italian admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with the killing by dissolving the flesh in an acid bath.
But the crystal meth addicted former Morgan Stanley IT developer denied that he had cooked and tried to eat parts of the body with chopsticks, saying he had no memory of it.
Brizzi was found guilty of murder and sentenced by Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC to life with a minimum of 24 years, with seven years concurrent for disposing of the body.
The court heard that evidence from an odontologist settled the matter of whether Brizzi had in fact cannibalised part of his victim.
On examining a rib discarded in the kitchen bin, the expert found that a bite mark did in fact match the defendant’s lower teeth.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said: “It would be open to my lord to sentence on the basis Mr Brizzi did indeed attempt to eat part of Pc Semple’s body.”
In mitigation, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC said: “The behaviour can only be ascribed to taking of the drug crystal meth, which, as the court will know, has appalling effects on those who become addicted to it.”
Brizzi had “absolutely no recollection” of eating Pc Semple and was “utterly horrified by it”, the barrister added.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Pc Semple’s older brother, Ronald Semple, said his sibling, who had served the police for 30 years, had been highly regarded as a “Dixon of Dock Green character”.
Pc Semple was a “caring and gentle person” and “much loved” by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard.
Sentencing, Judge Hilliard said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life.
He told him: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.”
The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.
The trial had heard that Brizzi arranged through Grindr for a “hot, dirty, sleazy session” at his flat near London’s Tate Modern gallery on April 1.
According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing slipped as they played a “strangulation game”.
But a pathologist concluded that, while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed.
In the days after the killing, Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store.
He then set about dismembering the body, stripping the flesh, burning some in the oven and mixing some with acid in the bath.
Pc Semple’s long-term partner, Gary Meeks, reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, Kent.
Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi’s flat and eventually called police, who came across the grisly sight of “globules” of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple’s head, and pools of human fat in the oven.
Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found.
The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat.
Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of the policeman because “Satan told me to”.
During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr.
Brizzi said: “I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him ‘Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it’s a mess’.”
He also told police that he had “chucked” some of Pc Semple’s body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings.
A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall.
The court heard that Brizzi had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show “glorified” the drug.
In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple’s DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible.
Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors that Pc Semple died in a “state of erotic bliss”.
The two officers who discovered the body parts in Brizzi’s home were commended by Judge Hilliard for dealing with a situation that “no amount of training or experience” could have prepared them for.
Afterwards, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London Baljit Ubhey said: “Stefano Brizzi learned today that he will remain in prison for the next 24 years for the horrific crimes he committed.
“An evil and calculating man, Brizzi lied to the police and then to the court, claiming that Mr Semple’s tragic death was caused when a sex game went horribly wrong.
“We know this will have been a very difficult time for the family and friends of Mr Semple. I hope the outcome today provides some comfort to them.”
Paying tribute to how her team dealt with the “challenging” case, she said: “They had to sift through many thousands of social media messages and piece together the events of that evening, which was difficult bearing in mind the lengths that Brizzi went to to remove traces of his crime and cover his tracks.”