Jason Peter Marshall: British man charged with stabbing and strangling Italian retiree he met in gay chat room in 'ferocious killing'

'Pychotic and socially dangerous' suspect has previous convictions in the UK of impersonating an MI5 official

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A known MI5 impersonator from Greenwich went on trial in Italy today accusing of brutally murdering a man he met in a gay chat room, and assaulting a second man in similar circumstances.

Jason Peter Marshall, 26, a diagnosed psychotic with several convictions for assault and impersonating police officers, is charged with stabbing and strangling the 68-year-old retired Italian tour guide, Vincenzo Iale, on 2 February 2013.

The pair are said to have met in the centre of Rome after chatting online and then returned to Mr Iale’s flat, in Torvajanica, on the coast, 15 km south of the capital.

There Marshall is alleged to have stabbed his victim several times in the back, arms and legs, and hit him with a truncheon, after spraying pepper spray in his face, before finally strangling him with an electrical lead.

Carabinieri officer Pippo Bisignani told the court: ‘The body was visible from the door, naked and face down with his hands behind his back. There was an electrical cord round his neck.’

Police have described it as a “ferocious killing”. The victim’s cash till card was stolen and used to steal €2,000, suggesting that the killer may have tortured him to obtain the PIN number.

Marshall, a former refuse collector, had moved to Rome just three weeks earlier on January 11 and rented a flat in Rome's Prati district, with someone he claimed to be a childhood friend and the friend's transsexual partner.

Marshall, unshaven, and dressed in a grey sweatshirt, listened stony-faced to his translator behind a caged section of the courtroom in Frosinone, 75 km southeast of Rome. The victim’s 31-year-old daughter was in court.

Prosecutors say that less than three weeks after the murder of Mr Iale,  on February 21, Marshall met another man, Umberto Gismondi, 55, again through a gay internet site, whom he attacked at the victim’s home in the Casal Morena district of Rome. Marshall is said to have fled after the victim’s screams caused neighbours to call the police.

Police claimed that the pair “ate dinner, watched TV and kissed but did not have sex". The victim then asked Marshall why he was carrying a gun and Marshall replied that he was an MI5 agent working at the British embassy in Rome, it is alleged. When the victim refused to believe this, prosecutors say, Marshall "flew into a violent rage”, punching the 55-year-old and attempting to smother him.

It is alleged that Marshall again forced the victim to reveal his cash till PIN code and used the card to steal €400. Police captured him a day later, in the suburbs of Rome by tracing his mobile phone signal.

Towards the end of today’s hearing, as judges deliberated over the dates of  the next court sessions, Marshall, evidently irritated that hearings would continue over a period of months, aimed an outburst at the bench.

“It’s against European law,” he said. “It should be over in six months. What is wrong with this country? You promised me it would be over in one or two weeks. What is wrong with this country?” A security guard approached him and told him to be quiet.

Marshall, who has told psychiatrists that he is an incarnation of the Archangel Gabriel, then shouted: “You can’t judge me, only God can judge me.”

His court-appointed defence lawyer Francesco Bruschini said afterwards that the time being taken to try Marshall was not in breach of EU law.

Marshall has previously been convicted in the UK of impersonating MI5 and transport police officials while carrying out searches and of issuing fines on the Tube. On one occasion officials became suspicious because his 'sniffer dog' was his pet Yorkshire terrier. He has also been accused of attacking people with pepper spray. 

The prosecutor Giovanni Taglialatela told The Independent that said that the maximum penalty for murders was life imprisonment, but that Marshall would almost certainly get a reduced sentence due to his mental illness.

A court report by an Italian psychiatrist said that the accused, who is currently being held in a psychiatric hospital in the north of Naples, said was Marshall was psychotic and “socially dangerous”, declaring: “he’s in need of constant mental healthcare”. Marshall also suffers from epilepsy and Asperger's syndrome.

The psychiatrist told the court, however, that his mental health was sufficient for him to stand trial, although it was “at the limit” of that deemed adequate to stand trial.