A couple were stabbed to death after their housemate became “paranoid” about the Covid risk during the first national lockdown, a court has heard.
Daniel Briceno Garcia, 46, is accused of murdering 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.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC told jurors at the Old Bailey: “What was found at the property can only be properly described as a bloodbath.”
He said: “This is a case that involves not one but two violent deaths at the hands of this defendant, which arose during the same incident right at the beginning of the first Covid lockdown in April 2020.
“There is now no dispute or issue that it was the defendant that killed both of the victims, and that he did so by stabbing them repeatedly with a knife.
“What you will have to decide is why he did so and what his state of mind was at the time.”
The victims had sublet rooms in the rented maisonette in Dorset Road to the defendant and five other Spanish speakers, the court heard.
Mr Little said it was a “worrying and concerning” time when the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown on March 23 2020.
In the week before the killings, Ms Butron Calvi had bought a new fridge, which left the defendant unimpressed, Mr Little said.
Briceno Garcia was allegedly heard to say: “What is this piece of shit you have bought, this is useless.”
Mr Little said: “Other 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 had allegedly told one of the other housemates that the defendant was “constantly in a bad mood”.
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.
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 defendant, wearing white cleaning gloves, allegedly 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 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”, Mr Little said.
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 claim of paranoid delusions or auditory hallucinations was “very much in dispute”.Though the attacks were “brutal and frenzied”, the prosecutor told jurors to assess the evidence dispassionately.
Briceno Garcia has admitted manslaughter but denies two counts of murder. The trial continues.