`Specks of blood trapped doctor's obsessed ex-lover'

THREE TINY specks of blood finally trapped an obsessed ex-boyfriend who murdered a young doctor, the Old Bailey heard yesterday

Joan Francisco was found strangled in her home in St John's Wood, north London, on Boxing Day 1994 with the flex of her floor cleaner wrapped around her neck. Her former boyfriend Anthony Diedrick, a computer expert, was arrested at the time but protested his innocence and was not charged.

It was only four years later that a tiny amount of blood "that would not have survived a single wash" was found on her pink T-shirt and linked to him, Nigel Sweeney, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey yesterday. He said that there was only a one in 170 million chance of the DNA sample matching anyone else.

The court heard that the 27-year-old doctor had not had any "meaningful" contact with Mr Diedrick since her days at medical school. Yet the blood was found on the T-shirt she was wearing when she died.

Mr Diedrick, the prosecutor said, had developed a deep obsession with his ex-girlfriend. He had bombarded her and her family with calls, spied on her and rigged up her home telephone to monitor calls.

"The murder was the terrible culmination of the defendant's obsession with Joan Francisco, who wanted nothing more to do with him," Mr Sweeney said. "Joan Francisco ended their relationship in late 1988 or early 1989, about six years before the murder."

The couple had dated for about a year when the doctor was a student living with her mother in Acton, west London. Although Mr Diedrick had allegedly had affairs during their friendship "he could not accept Joan Francisco's rejection of him", said Mr Sweeney. "He become obsessed with the idea that he was in love with her and could get her back. She made it clear at all stages that she wanted nothing more to do with him."

For two years there was virtually no contact between the two. However, Mr Sweeney told the jury: "In the autumn of 1994... for no remotely sensible reason, this defendant rekindled his obsession that Joan Francisco was the love of his life and that if he could talk to her he could get her back." Mr Diedrick talked endlessly about her, wrote letters and telephoned her mother to find out where she was living.

From early November 1994, he began spying on the doctor at her flat and attempting to record her telephone conversations with a home-made device, the court heard. Mr Diedrick was also making calls to the switchboard of the Royal Free Hospital, north London, where she was working. She "promptly put the phone down".

Dr Francisco had been due to leave for a holiday in California on Boxing Day. "There is evidence that he thought she was leaving permanently," Mr Sweeney told the court. "It represented his last chance for some time to confront her and thus begin the process of getting her back."

The doctor's body was found at 1pm that day after two calls from her mother went unanswered. "No one saw or heard what happened," said Mr Sweeney. "She was alone at the flat ... The defendant got in, there was a confrontation and he strangled her both manually and with the flex of a floor cleaner from the flat."

Mr Sweeney said: "He did not leave fingerprints but he did leave one tiny clue: a tiny amount of his blood on her T-shirt. It was a clue that was to be missed for nearly four years."

Mr Diedrick was arrested in January this year and samples of his blood were taken. They were found to match three small spots from the garment's neck. Mr Diedrick, 39, of Maida Vale, north London, denies murder.

The trial continues.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Receptionist

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A bookkeeper/receptionist posit...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£28500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique corp...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Product Support Specialists

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in the design...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat