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Tenant stabbed landlords to death over Covid fears in 'brutal and frenzied' attack
18 May 2022, 16:22 | Updated: 18 May 2022, 16:51
A tenant who stabbed his landlords to death after becoming paranoid about Covid in the first lockdown has been convicted of their murders.
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Daniel Briceno Garcia attacked Sonia Butron Calvi, 66, and Edgar Aguilera Daza, 60, at the home they shared with five others in Stockwell, south London.
He had become worried about Covid and paying rent during the pandemic after the lockdown was imposed.
Police arriving after the attack on April 1 2020 found a “bloodbath” and Tom Little QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey he stabbed them repeatedly with a knife in a “brutal and frenzied” attack.
Briceno Garcia, 46, had admitted manslaughter but denied murder, saying he was mentally ill at the time.
But jurors found him guilty of two counts of murder after 45 minutes of deliberation.
Briceno Garcia lived with five other Spanish speakers at the maisonette in Dorset Road, in which his victims had sublet rooms.
Mr Little said: "Witnesses describe that the defendant had become concerned, if not paranoid, about the risk that Covid was going to pose, and was concerned about that in this property.
"That in itself you may think is understandable. It is quite another thing to react to the risks which Covid posed with the use of a knife."
Ms Butron Calvi had told Briceno Garcia's housemates that he was "constantly in a bad mood".
That same day, Briceno Garcia launched his "brutal and murderous attack", targeting Mr Aguilera Daza and then Ms Butron Calvi, the court heard.
A witness opened her bedroom door and saw Briceno Garcia holding Mr Aguilera Daza by the neck and repeatedly stabbing him in the stomach.
Ms Butron Calvi screamed "Daniel, no, Daniel. Daniel, I'm going to call the police."
When the witness left her room again, Briceno Garcia, wearing white cleaning gloves, told her: "Go back into your room and lock the door. I'm calling the police."
He surrendered to police at the front door, holding his bleeding hands up, the court was told.
Mr Little said: "What was found at the property can only be properly described as a bloodbath."
Mr Aguilera Daza was in a pool of blood in the hall while Ms Butron Calvi was found face down in the kitchen, gripping a knife.
In Briceno Garcia's room, police found the murder weapon, which could have been run under a tap in what Mr Little called a "limited clean-up exercise", and a whiteboard that had notes about Covid in French and Spanish.
Briceno Garcia said "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" after being arrested but did not explain what happened.
He was "calm and coherent", while also "hostile and uncooperative" when taken to Brixton police station.
Briceno Garcia had superficial cuts to his hand and claimed to his psychiatrist that other tenants had tried to get money from him through violence.
He said the two landlords had were attempting to kill him and heard voices.
But Mr Little told jurors his claims of delusions and hallucinations were "very much in dispute".
A sentencing hearing will be held at a later date.