Man accused of Gordon Semple murder '˜met victim on dating app'

AN ITALIAN-BORN man will go on trial in the autumn for allegedly strangling and dismembering a police officer after meeting him on gay dating app Grindr.

The body of Pc Semple, 59, was found at a property in Southwark, south London. Picture: PA
The body of Pc Semple, 59, was found at a property in Southwark, south London. Picture: PA

Stefano Brizzi, 49, is accused of killing 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple, originally from Inverness, at his flat in London on a day between 1 April and 7 April.

Brizzi was taken before the Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC, at the Old Bailey to face the murder charge yesterday.

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Brizzi appeared in court wearing dark sunglasses and a grey tracksuit, and was flanked by three dock officers.

The judge set a timetable for the case with a provisional trial date of Tuesday, 28 October.

A plea and case management hearing was fixed for 29 June. The defendant was remanded in custody ahead of a further hearing on 20 April.

PC Semple had been with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years. He went missing on 1 April and his remains were discovered a week later after a neighbour alerted Scotland Yard to a “smell of death” coming from a property on the Peabody

Estate in Southwark Street, south London. The officer was reported missing by his partner, Gary Meeks, after he failed to return home from work.

Brizzi was arrested at his flat in the Peabody Estate in Southwark Street, when PC Semple’s remains were discovered on Thursday lunchtime – six days after he went missing.

He is accused of murdering PC Semple at some point during the six-day period.

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James Scobie QC, defending Brizzi, apologised for him appearing unshaven.

He said: “On behalf of the defendant he says through me to apologise to the court. He wanted to come in shaved but there have been issues as to that.”

Wearing a prison-issue grey jumper and black sunglasses, he leaned forward in the dock as he listened to the proceedings.

The officer went missing after leaving a meeting at the five-star Shangri La hotel in The Shard skyscraper at around 12:30pm.

CCTV cameras then picked him up nearly three hours later in nearby Great Guildford Street.

Brizzi was arrested at his home on Thursday and was charged with murder on Saturday.

PC Semple, who was an antisocial behaviour officer with Westminster City Council, lived with his partner Mr Meeks, 49, in Greenhithe, Kent.

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After the family announced his death on Facebook, his brother, Ronnie Semple, said: “I would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts during the past dreadful week.

“It has been a terrible time for us all, especially Gary. Gordon will be sadly missed.”