A man who stabbed his two landlords to death after becoming paranoid about Covid during the first national lockdown has been jailed for at least 33 years.
Daniel Briceno Garcia, 46, murdered his landlords Sonia Butron Calvi, 66, and Edgar Aguilera Daza, 60, at the home they shared with five others in Stockwell, south London, on 1 April 2020.
It is claimed that Mr Garcia had become paranoid and worried about the risks of Covid and paying his rent during the pandemic.
He admitted manslaughter but denied murder, claiming he was mentally ill at the time of the incident.
Jurors at the Old Bailey deliberated for just 45 minutes to find him guilty of two counts of murder.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 33 years on Friday (27 May).
Previously, Tom Little QC, prosecuting, had told jurors how Mr Briceno Garcia stabbed the victims repeatedly with a knife in a “brutal and frenzied” attack.
The couple, who had sublet rooms in the rented maisonette in Dorset Road to the 46-year-old along with five other Spanish speakers, were found by police lying in a “bloodbath” at the property, the court heard.
Mr Little said it was a “worrying and concerning” time when the first national lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020, and described how Mr Briceno Garcia had become “paranoid” about the risk of Covid.
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.”
On 1 April 1, Ms Butron Calvi told one of the other housemates that the defendant was “constantly in a bad mood” and later that afternoon he launched a “brutal and murderous attack”, first on Mr Aguilera Daza and then on Ms Butron Calvi, jurors 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 was told.
Ms Butron Calvi was then heard to scream “Daniel, no, Daniel. Daniel, I’m going to call the police.”
When the witness ventured out of her room again, the court was told that Mr Briceno Garcia, 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 and when Mr Briceno Garcia opened the door, his hands were bleeding as he held them up.
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.
The murder weapon was uncovered in a search of Mr Briceno Garcia’s room, which Mr Little said may have been run under a tap as part of a “limited clean-up exercise”.
Police also found a whiteboard with writing in French and Spanish referring to the Covid crisi in red and a handwritten note.
Following his arrest, Mr Briceno Garcia said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” then declined to explain what had happened, jurors heard.
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.
Mr Little said the defendant’s claim of paranoid delusions or auditory hallucinations was “very much in dispute”.