Ireneusz Bartnowski, 22, Jailed For Double Murder Of Guiseppe And Caterina Massaro
A judge said today that he was close to tears as he jailed a murderer who he branded "cold-blooded" and "evil beyond belief" for a brutal hammer and knife attack on an elderly couple in their own home.
Ireneusz Bartnowski, 22, who had only arrived in the UK two weeks before the murders, battered and stabbed Guiseppe and Caterina Massaro before looting their Wolverhampton home, stealing two televisions and their car.
Mr Massaro, 80, and his 77-year-old wife were found dead on their bedroom floor by their granddaughter Lindsey Booth, 24, who branded the Polish killer "a vile human being", adding: "We hope the very moments that have confined him (in prison) will torment and disturb his corrupted mind every moment of every day."
Bartnowski, who had been staying with his sister next door to the Massaros, had denied killing the couple in April last year, blaming the murders on his friend Wojciech Ostolski.
He was found guilty of two counts of murder by a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court and sentenced to two life sentences, each with a 34-year minimum tariff. The terms will run concurrently.
Ostolski, 32, of Chervil Rose, Heath Town, Wolverhampton, was cleared of handling stolen goods.
Mr Justice MacDuff told Bartnowski: "You broke into their home after dusk and, armed with a claw hammer and a knife, you bludgeoned and stabbed them both to death.
"You showed no mercy, no compassion. You left them dead upon their bedroom floor and you set about stripping them of their valuables. You stole their money, you carried two televisions into their car and you drove that car away.
"You went out with your friends to a supermarket and you used the cash you had stolen from them to buy drink.
"You have told this court breathtaking lies in an attempt to escape justice. But you did not fool this jury."
The judge, who commended the jury for reaching "the correct verdict", added: "This was a cold-blooded murder.
"Yours was an intention to kill. You knew you had no intention but to end their lives.
"I have read the impact statements provided by members of the Massaro family and I have been moved almost to tears by the anguish you have caused.
"You lack all humanity, you are evil beyond belief."
A three-week trial heard that Bartnowski was captured on CCTV as he took the televisions from the couple's home on April 21 and drove away in their Peugeot car.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith told the jury that a "wealth of scientific evidence" - including blood-staining and fingerprints - also proved the defendant's guilt.
During his opening speech to the court, Mr Grieves-Smith said the Massaros, who emigrated to England in 1960 from Naples in Italy, suffered "dreadful injuries" in a sustained attack at their home in Woden Road, Wolverhampton.
The lawyer said: "The attack was brutal and savage and they were attacked in the same room and died there.
"It is clear from the pathological evidence that a brutal attack was launched on both despite their age and frailty.
"Who was attacked first, we can't say, but one of the victims must have seen the other attacked and, as they did, must surely have known that the same thing would happen to them."
Mr Massaro died from multiple injuries to the head, neck and abdomen, including numerous stab wounds, a fractured skull and haemorrhages to his brain.
Mrs Massaro had also been stabbed in the neck and blood loss was the most important mechanism in bringing about her death.
The judge told the defendant: "They must have recognised you as they put up a futile resistance to your attack. The fear and pain they must have felt in their dying minutes is unimaginable."
Referring to Bartnowski's attempt to pass the blame to Ostolski, the judge said: "You pointed the finger at your innocent friend Wojciech Ostolski and falsely accused him of committing the murders.
"He is a man who had befriended you and innocently assisted you in attempting to sell the televisions and car which you pretended you had come by innocently.
"As a consequence of that he was arrested on suspicion of murder ... he is also a victim of your wickedness."
He added: "You have shown no remorse, no pity, concerned only with saving yourself and heaping the blame on an innocent man."
Miss Booth, one of the couple's seven grandchildren, said she suffers daily flashbacks, reminding her of the moment she opened the bedroom door to find her grandparents lying murdered on the floor.
She said: "If he rots in there for the rest of his life, if I am honest, it is never going to bring them back and it will never be enough.
"Whether he got sentenced to death or sent into space or plunged into hell or to live in a raft in the middle of the ocean, it's never, ever going to bring them back."
She added: "If I am honest, I actually hope what he did torments him. I hope his actions that put him in there eat him up and I hope that he gets flashbacks and I hope it disturbs his mind.
"Because that's not right. That's not human to do something like that and then not feel sorry and not feel guilty and not feel any remorse."
Senior investigating officer Superintendent Keith Wilson praised the Massaros' relatives for their "immense dignity and bravery".
"Today is not about the evil and cowardly actions of Ireneusz Bartnowski," he said.
"Today is about recognising the sudden and tragic deaths of Guiseppe and Caterina, which has had a truly devastating impact on their whole family, the wider community and their friends and family in Italy.
"Bartnoswki has shown no remorse for his brutal attack on a defenceless and elderly couple who were soon to be great-grandparents.
"This has created a huge void in a lot of people's lives. However, Bartnowski will now have plenty of time to contemplate the pain and suffering he has caused."