Case: Hostel stabbing: Gary Brisco
Gary Brisco
Mehretab Zemicael
Status: Solved
Categories: Robbery, Drug Related
Case synopsis:

Gary Brisco, 42, was found stabbed to death at a hostel for the homeless in Spitalfields, east London, on 22 June 2013.

His body was found inside a locked bedroom at Daniel Gilbert House in Code Street off Brick Lane at around 5.40pm.

A postmortem gave the cause of death as multiple wounds.

Detectives launched a murder enquiry and issued a photograph of a suspect they wished to question.

On 9 July police arrested Mehretab Zemicael, 42 [7/1/71], an Eritrean national of Code Street, Spitalfields. He was charged with murder the following day.

Zemicael, who was born in Eritrea, went on trial at the Old Bailey on 12 February 2014. The prosecution suggested Mr Brisco was killed for money he won gambling.

Jurors heard Mr Brisco boasted of winning £800 or £900 and was seen with a large amount of money by staff on 21 June 2013.

He was last seen alive at 9.30pm that day. Zemicael left the hostel 20 minutes later and slept rough on the streets until his arrest.

Staff found Mr Brisco's body in Zemicael's bloodstained bedroom on the next morning, 22 June. His throat had been cut and he had suffered multiple stab wounds.

The court heard Zemicael was being prescribed methadone and antipsychotic medication for his schizophrenia at the time of the killing. He had repeatedly asked his friend for money in the days before the murder.

Prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said: 'For whatever reason Mr Brisco was in the defendant's room at the hostel where they both lived.

'Something was said or done which caused Zemicael to explode in anger and stab Mr Brisco to death.

'According to staff Mr Brisco had a habit of letting everyone know when he was fortunate enough to come into a bit of money.

'If he had cash he would display it to anyone - he was a bit of a show-off. Is that the reason he met his death?'

On 19 February 2014 Zemicael was convicted of murder. On 3 April 2014 he was jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years before parole.


Killer Mehretab Zemicael (left with check shirt) and victim Gary Brisco

Judge Charles Wide QC said: 'You repeatedly stabbed him with the knife that you had, repeatedly plainly aiming blows at the neck and the upper body', he said.

'The packaging of the knife was found under your pillow.

'The use of the knife, repeatedly stabbing, particularly against your background and history, with a record of possessing bladed articles, constitutes a significant aggravating feature.'

Joan Brisco, mother of Gary Brisco, said in a statement: “I would like to express my thanks to the prosecution team and to the Victim Support Service for the support they had given me following Gary's murder.

“Despite Gary's problems with drugs he was a good son who had never caused me any problems. I miss him so much but I am grateful that with Zemicael now behind bars justice has been achieved.”

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