Boyfriend guilty of killing woman in frenzied knife attack

Neomi Smith suffered 32 stab wounds during the attack by Keith Rizzo last June.

Boyfriend guilty of killing woman in frenzied knife attack

A killer murdered his lover after storming into a rage because she danced with another man in a pub.

Keith Rizzo choked Neomi Smith, 23, and stabbed her 32 times in her flat in Brechin, Angus in the early hours of last June 9.

The 23-year-old farm worker later lied to his mother Ms Smith had been brutally set upon by two mystery attackers as she owed them money.

Rizzo now faces a life sentence after he was convicted of murder on Monday afternoon following a two-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

There was a loud cry of “yes” from Ms Smith’s emotional family at the verdict.

Lady Rae deferred sentencing until next month for reports.

The judge added: “Be under no illusion, you will be facing a significant punishment part for the life sentence as this was a vile and brutal murder of a young woman.”

The couple had got together earlier in 2019. Ms Smith – a care worker – was originally from Aberdeen.

Jurors heard how Rizzo was violent to his girlfriend shortly into the relationship.

Weeks before the killing, Ms Smith told a friend how the thug had choked her until she passed out.

He later had a row with his partner at her flat, smashing a mirrored wardrobe door and then hurling his iPhone at her.

A disorientated Ms Smith was eventually discovered in her stairwell with a large bump on her head.

The trial heard heard how the pair were then at Brechin’s Hudson’s Bar the night before the murder.

It was there Rizzo lost the plot and sent a table of drinks crashing. His friend Cameron Saunders recalled how Rizzo stormed out the pub after seeing Ms Smith dancing with another man.

Mr Saunders added: “They were dancing away for a while when Keith said: ‘that’s enough’.”

Ms Smith was left in tears and was heard stating: “This is what I have to put up with.”

Ms Smith went on to walk home with her friend Kayleigh Cameron.

 She confided in Ms Cameron how she had been suffering at the hands of Rizzo.

Ms Smith was worried about leaving Rizzo in case he attacked her again as he had “not hesitated to do it before”.

Ms Cameron then recalled her final conversation with her friend.

The witness: “I asked her if she was going to be safe. She replied: ‘Yes’.

“She told me that she would lock the door and would keep her key in, so he could not use his to gain access.”

But, the trial instead heard how Rizzo stomped back from the pub, booted his way into the flat before carrying out the horrific killing.

He throttled Ms Smith, used two knives to stab her 32 times and also left her pummelled with the same amount of blunt force injuries.

Rizzo soon spun a web of lies to cover up what happened.

He first raced to Ms Smith’s neighbour for help claiming she had been arguing with “someone” while he was in the shower.

Stephen Alexander dialled 999 and recalled racing up to the bloodbath with Rizzo.

Ms Smith was found lying stricken in her kitchen. Mr Alexander told jurors: “I entered…I saw a scene of carnage. There was glass and debris all over the kitchen.

“It looked as though a battle had taken place. There were bottles of sauce, fruit and vegetables amongst the broken glass.

“There was a knife at Neomi’s left leg. She was lying on her front between the fridge and the tumble dryer.”

Mr Alexander gave Ms Smith CPR before mercy crews arrived.

Paramedic Angela McKenzie recalled the flat being “like a horror movie”.

She checked Ms Smith’s neck for injuries.

Ms McKenzie said: “I can’t even describe it – it was like Leerdammer cheese.

“It was full of holes – the back of her head and her neck. I gave up counting how many holes there were.”

Ms Smith was found to have died due to multiple stab wounds, blunt force injury and neck compression.

Rizzo’s mum Frances then visited her son in Perth prison week later while he was on remand.

He gave a bizarre account of how two men took turns to stab Ms Smith after the couple returned home.

Rizzo said he had pleaded with the pair to empty his bank account if they were owed money.

But, he insisted the mystery pair killed Ms Smith adding: “This is not the first time we have done this.”

Rizzo – who claimed he was forced to put his hands on blood on the floor – also said he was forced into the shower as the pair fled.

The trial, heard, however there was no sign on CCTV of the so-called attackers.

In his speech to the jury, prosecutor Duncan McPhie branded the story “far-fetched” and “incredible”.

After the verdict, it emerged Rizzo already had a domestic abuse conviction concerning ex-partner Mary Saville.

She had been one of a number of other women who gave evidence in this trial claiming they had also suffered at the hands of Rizzo.

Prosecutors withdrew those allegations at the end of the prosecution evidence.

Rizzo was also separately convicted of an earlier assault on Ms Smith as well as behaving in a threatening and abusive manner.

Detective inspector Ross Fitzgerald said: “Our thoughts are still very much with Neomi’s family and friends during what is a really difficult time for them. The loss of their daughter, sister and friend has been agonising for them.

“This conviction will not in any way compensate for their loss, but Rizzo will now have to face the consequences for his horrific actions.”

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