Tenant who stabbed landlords to death during lockdown guilty of double murder

Police found the couple lying in a ‘bloodbath’ at the property, the Old Bailey was told.

18 May 2022

A tenant who stabbed his landlords to death after becoming paranoid about Covid during the first national lockdown has been found guilty of double murder.

Daniel Briceno Garcia, 46, attacked Sonia Butron Calvi, 66, and Edgar Aguilera Daza, 60, at the home they shared with five others in Stockwell, south London, on April 1 2020.

Police found the couple lying in a “bloodbath” at the property, the Old Bailey was told.

It was claimed Briceno Garcia had become worried about the risks of Covid and paying his rent in the pandemic.

He had admitted manslaughter but denied murder, claiming he was mentally ill at the time.

Jurors deliberated for just 45 minutes to find him guilty of two counts of murder on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC had told jurors that there was no dispute the defendant stabbed the victims repeatedly with a knife in a “brutal and frenzied” attack.

The couple had sublet rooms in the rented maisonette in Dorset Road to the defendant and five other Spanish speakers.

Mr Little said it was a “worrying and concerning” time when the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown on March 23 2020.

He 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.”

Jurors would also have to consider whether there had been any issues over rent and money.

On April 1, Ms Butron Calvi told one of the other housemates that the defendant was “constantly in a bad mood”, jurors heard.

Later that afternoon, the defendant launched a “brutal and murderous attack”, first on Mr Aguilera Daza and then on Ms Butron Calvi, the court heard.

One resident heard shouting and opened her bedroom door to see Mr Aguilera Daza being repeatedly stabbed in the stomach while the defendant held him around the neck, the court heard.

Ms Butron Calvi was then heard to scream “Daniel, no, Daniel. Daniel, I’m going to call the police.”

Later, when the witness ventured out of her room again, the court was told the defendant, wearing white cleaning gloves, told her: “Go back into your room and lock the door. I’m calling the police.”

Six 999 calls were made on the defendant’s phone before police arrived at the property, the court heard.

Briceno Garcia opened the door and his hands were bleeding as he held them 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 found in a pool of blood in the hallway and Ms Butron Calvi was lying face down in the kitchen with a knife clenched in her hand.

A search of the defendant’s bedroom uncovered the murder weapon – which may have been run under a tap as part of a “limited clean-up exercise”, Mr Little said.

There was also a whiteboard with writing in French and Spanish referring to the Covid crisis in red and a handwritten note.

Following his arrest, Briceno Garcia said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” then declined to explain what had happened, jurors heard.

At Brixton Police Station, he was described as being “calm and coherent”, but also “hostile and unco-operative”.

The defendant, who had superficial cuts to his hands, went on to claim to a psychiatrist that his fellow tenants had been violent towards him to obtain money and would intimidate him by striking him.

He also claimed the two victims were trying to kill him and that he was hearing voices, the court was told.

Mr Little said the defendant’s claim of paranoid delusions or auditory hallucinations was “very much in dispute”.

Following the guilty verdicts, Judge Mark Lucraft QC adjourned sentencing to a date to be fixed.

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