"This result has been a long time coming and it's an absolute relief to know that this man will now be off the streets."
Retired Detective Superintendent Phil James.
The Guardian, 29 June 2011
It had taken nearly a decade, but in June 2011, Heather Barnett’s family finally had what they had waited for: Danilo Restivo on trial for the horrendous murder of their devoted mother.
Heather Barnett had been struck several times on the head with a hammer-type object and her body mutilated.
Restivo denied all knowledge of Heather’s killing and pleaded not guilty to murder.
Presenting the prosecution’s case, Michael Bowes QC told the court that Restivo had planned Heather’s murder, visiting her at her flat to enquire about curtains shortly before her death. Heather had been left so concerned that Restivo had stolen a spare set of her house keys during this visit that she even wrote to his fiancée, now wife, asking if he had found them.
The prosecution case called expert witnesses who explained crucial evidence regarding blood and DNA analysis, as well as presenting the findings of regular surveillance work.
At the trial, the jury learnt of damning evidence from police surveillance: Restivo was seen watching women. A later search of his car uncovered a knife, a balaclava and other weapons. The officer leading the surveillance described this as a "murder bag".
Making legal history, the judge allowed evidence of the 1993 disappearance of 16-year-old schoolgirl Elisa Claps in the Southern Italian town of Potenza and the subsequent discovery of her remains in March 2010. The jury heard of the numerous similarities between the murder of Elisa Claps and Heather Barnett.
In his defence, Restivo claimed that a host of medical reasons resulted in his memory of key events being poor – explaining, he said, why he had refused to answer critical questions from Dorset detectives, as well as why several of his statements appeared to differ.
Prosecutor, Mr Bowes said the defendant had told "lie upon lie upon lie".
His final words to the jury were: "There is a reason that all the evidence points to him. It is because it is him."
The jury took less than five hours to find Danilo Restivo guilty of Heather’s murder.
In November 2011 a court in Italy tried Restivo for the murder of Elisa Claps. He was locked up in a British prison at the time, was found guilty in his absence and sentenced to 30 years.