Convicted killer fights deportation to ‘crowded and dirty’ Italian prison where he will be 'unable to call his wife'

Danilo Restivo was found guilty of the brutal murder of his neighbour in Bournemouth three years ago and a 16-year-old two decades earlier in his home town of Potenza

An Italian man who murdered a mother of two and a teenage girl has claimed he could not be deported to his home country to complete his 40-year sentence because he had a right to a family life in Britain.

Danilo Restivo, who had a fetish for cutting women’s hair, was convicted of the brutal and ritualistic murder of his neighbour in Bournemouth three years ago.

After his sentence, he was also found guilty in his absence of murdering a 16-year-old two decades earlier in his home town of Potenza.

Giving evidence at a special appeal tribunal hearing at Bradford Crown Court, he said attempts by Home Secretary Theresa May to have him sent back to Italy were unlawful under the Human Rights Act because of the “crucial role” played by his family in the United Kingdom.

The 41-year-old, who is currently serving his sentence in Full Sutton prison near York, said that if he was transferred under an EU prisoner-exchange deal, he would no longer be able to telephone his Italian-born wife. She lives 300 miles away from York in Bournemouth.

He said that in the high security British jail he was able to ring her up to five times a day, a privilege that would be denied him if he were in prison in Italy, where he said cells were crowded and dirty.

He said: “In this country I do not need to ask permission to phone my wife. According to the rules in Italy, prisoners are not allowed to make phone calls abroad and they are not allowed to write letters abroad. They would not accept it even if I paid for delivery,” he said.

Restivo said he had created a “family relationship” with his wife and her two sons from a previous marriage. She did not wish to move back to Italy, having severed all ties after moving to the UK in 1997. The tribunal heard that she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and struggled to see her husband every two to three months in the UK. The couple married in 2004 after meeting on the internet.

Two years earlier, shortly after his arrival in Britain, Restivo had killed and mutilated neighbour Heather Barnett, 48, cutting off her breasts and leaving her body in a bathroom for her daughter, aged 11, and son, 14, to discover.

Strands of hair were placed in her hands. Restivo had a history of creeping up behind women on buses and cutting off their hair.

But he was not convicted until 2011, only a few months before he was also found guilty of the 1993 murder of Elisa Claps, 16, in their home town of Potenza. Her body was not discovered for 17 years.

During an appeal against his murder conviction in Italy he spent six weeks in a prison cell there.

“I was given a single cell but a nearby cell had 15 people in it. The cleanliness and hygiene in cells in Italy are not good.

“There is only one toilet for 15 people and the cells are full of bugs. I know that is not the case in British jails,” he said.

The tribunal rejected an application to have the hearing heard anonymously.

Rona Petterson for the Home Office said Restivo’s wife had exaggerated her disability. “There is no reason she could not travel to Italy or take up residence there,” she said.

But Benjamin Hawkin, counsel for Restivo, said his client had a permanent right of residence in the UK under European law.

“His right to a private and family life must be carefully evaluated. It would have a severe affect if he was deported,” he said.

The tribunal reserved its judgement.

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