Caught on CCTV: Killer buys a bottle of beer minutes after stabbing his wife to death
Jose Leonardo had denied murder but admitted manslaughter
17 November, 2016 — By William McLennan
Jose Leonardo and Maria Mbombo
THIS is the moment a man calmly walked into an off-licence to buy a bottle of beer after stabbing his wife of more than 30 years to death.
Jose Leonardo, 56, was found guilty on Monday of murdering Maria Mbombo at their home in Maitland Park Villas.
— Camden New Journal (@NewJournal) November 17, 2016
He had admitted killing his 52-year-old partner in a row, but his legal team argued he was guilty only of the lesser charge of manslaughter because he was “provoked by her to lose his self-control”.
A jury at the Old Bailey, who had sat through two weeks of detailed evidence, rejected his claims and sided with the prosecution, who described him as a “controlling and possessive man” guilty of a “clear case of murder”.
The court heard how Mr Leonardo stabbed his wife “many times” with a kitchen knife in May and left her to bleed to death on the bedroom floor of their flat in Chestnut House.
He then fled, leaving his adult sons to make the grim discovery, and walked 500 metres to the Super Choice off-licence in Queen’s Crescent shortly before midnight.
Wearing a brown coat and a white vest, covered with his wife’s blood, Mr Leonardo stumbled into the shop and attempted to buy a bottle of Leffe.
“[The shop owner] then noticed that the man had blood on his jacket and, it seemed, rather a lot of blood on his chest. He said to him: ‘what’s that?’ and the customer replied: ‘Just call the police’,” prosecutor John Price QC told a jury at the Old Bailey.
CCTV footage of the night was obtained by the New Journal in May, but it can only now be made public at the close of the court case.
Gul Halim Afghanyar, the shop owner, refused to sell him the beer and instead dialled 999. Police arrived a few minutes later to find Mr Leonardo looking unsteady on his feet.
Officers at first believed Mr Leonardo had been the victim of an assault and began to examine his injuries, the court heard.
“It was about this time the defendant murmured something about his wife. [The police officer] asked him: ‘Is your wife here?’ To which the defendant responded: ‘My wife is killed.’ A phrase which he repeated,” Mr Price said.
He was then arrested on suspicion of murder and checked over by paramedics who discovered he had “superficial” and self-inflected wounds to his neck and wrists. He later admitted to having attempted to take an overdose of painkillers.
Throughout the trial, Mr Leonardo had sought to avoid taking full responsibility for his deadly actions and told the court that he was consumed by suspicions of his wife’s infidelity.
He said that, in the months before he murdered her, he had come to doubt that he was the biological father of his eldest son, Jacque.
He told the court: “I wasn’t happy at all. I never felt so low in my life. So I wanted to find out, especially about Jacque, my son. I wanted to find out if he was my son, if I was his real father.”
Asked why he had killed his wife, Mr Leonardo had said: “She couldn’t tell me if Jacque was my son. She wouldn’t let me do a DNA test. She made me understand that if I go to the DNA she would end the relation.”
On the day he killed his wife, the couple had been arguing about £8,000 cash savings that had gone missing from their home. During the row his wife picked up a knife and threatened to cut herself, Mr Leonardo claimed.
“In the end I just went for the knife, because she had it and she wanted to hurt herself,” he said.
“She bit me in my hand. At that time I was already upset with everything that happened, so I just lost it. I just lost control. I took the knife and stabbed her.”
He was found not guilty of a separate charge of preventing the course of justice by attempting to stop his children give evidence at the trial.
Detective Inspector Simon Deefholts, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Leonardo has never revealed the exact events of that day in Maitland Park Villas, and tried to claim in his defence that he lost control before launching the attack.
“However, our investigation revealed that Leonardo had a history of violence towards Maria, including another incident where Maria sustained three knife wounds while on a visit to Belgium in March 2016.
“No offences were reported to police in the UK but it is clear that Leonardo was a violent man who could not control his temper.”
Mr Leonardo’s sentencing was postponed this week due to industrial action by prison officers.