Burglar guilty of pensioner murder
A burglar who allegedly stabbed a pensioner 22 times after breaking into his home was today convicted of murder.
Aaron de Silva had pleaded guilty to killing Joseph Griffiths, but denied murder. However a jury at the Old Bailey found the case proved.
The 21-year-old, of Earls Court, south west London, also admitted aggravated burglary armed with a lock knife.
Mr Griffiths, 73, was discovered in a pool of blood by his wife and a friend after the "brutal" attack in Hazlebury Road, Fulham, south west London, on November 10, 2012, the court heard.
Prosecutor Brendan Finucane QC told the jury when he opened the trial: "There were no eye witnesses but people were awoken by a completely brutal and overwhelming assault on an elderly man in his own home, where he was knifed 22 times to the body."
After the attack De Silva was caught on CCTV taking a "cool, calm and collected walk" back to the Earls Court hostel where he was staying to wash his clothes and get rid of evidence, Mr Finucane said.
He was arrested at the Opendoor Housing Trust Hostel three days later.
The court heard that on the morning of November 10 De Silva went into a number of gardens on Hazlebury Road before stealing a pair of bolt croppers from an unlocked garden shed.
Using the tool, at about 6.15am he broke a rear window on the basement level of Mr Griffiths' nearby six-storey terraced home and walked around the lower two levels.
Mr Griffiths and his wife Judy, who had lived there for 50 years, were asleep in separate bedrooms on the ground floor, while family friends John and James Hall, who were visiting for a wedding, slept on the second floor.
Mr Finucane said: "Mr Griffiths must have been woken by the defendant coming in, must have challenged him in the hallway, outside his own bedroom door."
It was at this point, Mr Finucane said, De Silva carried out the "brutal and overwhelming assault", stabbing him 22 times in his chest and abdomen.
He added: "This awoke his wife and friends, but by the time they got there he had left."
Mrs Griffiths found her husband lying on his back in a pool of blood. The front door was still locked, and Mr Hall found the rear basement door had been opened.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate Mr Griffiths, but he died in the house just before 7am.
De Silva was arrested at the hostel on Warwick Road on November 13, and the knife was found in the basement area outside a house on Snowbury Road, near the scene of the killing.
De Silva was seen on CCTV before the attack walking in a "determined and purposeful" manner towards the area of Hazlebury Road, and after the killing going back to the hostel with a "cool, calm and collected walk".
Mr Finucane said: "Given the savagery of the attack on Mr Griffiths and his behaviour before and after, there can be no doubt that he had the intention to kill or cause really serious harm."
He added: "Anybody who stabs a person 22 times with a knife like that has at the very least the intention to cause really serious harm, and further you can be sure that he did it with the intention to kill the deceased."
De Silva looked impassively in front of him as the verdict was returned. Sentencing will be on Friday.
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