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By | John Leyden 21st April 2008 09:57

Friends Reunited killer gets life

Midsummer murder

An Italian who travelled to the UK to kill his wife's lover, after she reconnected with her teenage sweetheart through the Friends Reunited website, was jailed for life last week.

Francesco Matta, 56, was sent to prison for a minimum of 11 years after a jury found him guilty of murder at Exeter Crown Court, Sky News reports. Matta's legal team unsuccessfully argued that he was not fully responsible for his actions when he stabbed to death married RAF officer Flight Lieutenant Stephen Keen in July 2006. Keen, 54, was murdered in front of Susan Matta, 53.

Matta's estranged wife left him after rekindling her 30-year-old romance with the victim through Friends Reunited. Matta, from Cagliari, Sardinia, travelled to the UK to kill Keen in his new home in Tiverton, Devon, days after he moved in with Matta's ex-wife.

The Sardinian admitted causing Keen's death after stabbing him in the throat with a lock-knife. The fatal attack left the room where the killing took place looking like a "slaughter chamber", according to testimony from his estranged wife. She dated Keen when the pair were teenagers in Tiverton, but they broke up when Keen joined the RAF after leaving school. They led separate lives for 30 years before reconnecting via Friends Reunited in 2004, reigniting a doomed romance that prompted Keen to move back from the US to the UK.

Matta pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder by reason of diminished responsibility. The jury rejected these arguments and convicted him of murder by a 11-1 majority verdict.

In sentencing Mr Justice Jack told Matta: "It is an aggravating feature you planned to kill Stephen Keen before you left Sardinia. There is ample evidence that was your plan."

The judge took into account that Matta was suffering from clinical depression after his wife left him.

In other internet-related homicide news, a Michigan woman who sought a hitman to kill her lover's wife pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder last Friday. Anne Marie Linscott, 49, advertised for a contract killer on social networking website Craigslist in November 2007. She offered $5,000 to "eradicate" her would-be target, supplying the intended victim's name and address to two people who followed up her ad, Reuters reports.

Surfers contacted police, who tracked the postings and emails back to Linscott. As part of a plea bargain agreement, prosecutors dropped charges that she planned to plant a bomb outside her unnamed rival's home in exchange for a guilty plea to the murder-for-hire scheme. Linscott faces a possible ten years in prison for each of three federal charges, at an as-yet unscheduled sentencing hearing. ®

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