Serial killer with HIV virus dies in jail

Sadist with `burning hatred' because of infection was serving life for strangling four gay men. Jason Bennetto reports

A serial killer who strangled four gay men in revenge for contracting the HIV virus has died from an Aids-related illness, it emerged yesterday.

Michael Lupo, 43, killed the men during an eight-week spree in 1986 - a fortnight after learning he was HIV positive. He also attempted to murder two other people.

Lupo cruised gay pubs and clubs in London searching for sex and victims. He had sadistic sexual tastes and mutilated his victims after throttling them.

He was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in July 1987 after admitting the killings and attempted murders and spent the last seven years of his life in a prison hospital wing suffering Aids-related illnesses.

The Italian born Lupo, a former fashion boutique owner, was captured in a police operation which used one of his attempted murder victims as "live bait".

David Cole, a British Rail worker, who was nearly strangled in a south London lorry park, agreed to visit pubs he had cruised in before meeting Lupo. Within five hours he spotted Lupo in the Prince of Wales pub in Brixton, south London, and an arrest was made.

Lupo's first victim was a railway worker whom he had met in a gay bar and later strangled with a silk sock in a derelict flat. A few weeks later he used the sock to kill an unemployed waiter. The third victim was an unidentified tramp, aged about 60, who was attacked as he left a gay club. His final victim was a hospital worker.

When police broke into his flat in Chelsea, west London, they found torture equipment, including manacles and whips.

During the trial the court heard that Lupu had told police he had an "urge to kill".

At Lupo's trial, the jury was told that the shock of learning he had the Aids virus had created a "callous rationale" in which he developed a burning hatred for other homosexuals.

Lupo died on Sunday in the hospital wing of Frankland Prison, Co Durham. Because the death occurred in prison, an inquest will be held on Monday.

The Prison Service estimates that there are about 35 inmates in England and Wales prisons with the HIV virus. This number, however, is considered to be a gross underestimate and the Home Office has undertaken a study to established the real figure. The Prison Reform Trust believes it could be about 350.

There is particular concern that the virus is being spread through the prison system by sharing of needles for drugs.

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