Burglar Convicted of Murdering Fulham Pensioner Joseph Griffiths

21 year-old Aaron De Silva had 31 previous convictions

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Burglar Aaron De Silva has been convicted of murdering pensioner Joseph Griffiths in his Fulham home in November 10, 2012.

De Silva, 21, had admitted entering the house in Hazlebury Road, off Wandsworth Bridge Road and killing 73-year-old Mr Griffiths, but tried to plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However, the prosecution refused to accept the plea and he was tried for murder.

Successive psychiatric reports found that while De Silva, of Warwick Road, Earls Court, may have had a personality disorder, he was suffering no mental illness at the time of the killing.

De Silva, who stabbed Mr Griffiths 22 times, has 31 previous convictions including robbery, assault, burglary and carrying a knife.

Mr Griffiths's wife Judith described to the court during the trial how she had heard an "awful sound" had found him lying in a pool of blood outside his bedroom.

Prosecutor Brendan Finucane QC said it was "a completely brutal and overwhelming assault on an elderly man in his own house where he was knifed 22 times to his body."

The Old Bailey was shown CCTV footage recorded in the hours after the killing, showing De Silva dancing while he played music on a computer.

The court heard that De Silva had walked to Fulham from his hostel armed with a knife, with the intention of burgling.

He climbed through back gardens and stole a pair of bolt cutters from a shed before using them to break into Mr Griffiths's house.

De Silva told the jury he only had a sketchy memory of the killing, but that he had not intended to hurt anyone. He said he had wanted to escape from the house as quickly as possible and burgled it because he wanted money and was hungry.

The court also heard that the judge presiding over the trial, Judge Timothy Pontius, had also sentenced De Silva's father Emmanuel.

De Silva's defence barrister had claimed his client had been traumatised at the age of seven when armed police raided the family home to arrest his father. Emmanuel de Silva was later tried and sentenced by Judge Pontius to 24 years for armed robbery.

Aaron De Silva was put in care at the age of nine, was expelled from school at the age of 13 for stealing the school minibus, and was first convicted of house burglary at the age of 14.

Since then he has spent every one of his last seven birthdays in detention

The year before the murder, aged 18, De Silva had been given 18 months detention for two assaults. But by November 2012 he was free once again.

Mr Griffiths and his wife had lived in their Fulham home for nearly 50 years. After his death, his wife Judith and sons, who helped him Shelby car mechanics in New King's Road, released a statement saying his death had left a 'great void in our lives'.

Their statement continued: "Joe was a husband, father and grandfather, he was a successful businessman who embraced life and lived it to the full.

"He took great pride in his business and it gave him immense satisfaction that three generations of the Griffiths family were employed there.

"Joe's sudden and tragic demise has shocked and saddened all who knew and loved him, and has left a great void in all our lives. We will miss his forthright views and wicked sense of fun.

"Joe leaves behind a wife, two sons and seven grandchildren, who all completely adore and miss him. The support from our friends, our customers, old and new has been overwhelming, we greatly appreciate it."

February 25, 2014