Convicted robber jailed for murdering woman he met on dating site

A convicted armed robber who strangled, battered and stabbed a woman to death after meeting her on a dating site has been sentenced to life in prison.

Martin Saberi, 55, murdered Amy Griffiths in her flat in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, in January 2019 while he was on the run for stabbing another woman in the neck outside a supermarket near his home in Wallington, Surrey, three days earlier.

Saberi, who was out on licence after serving 16 years for robbery when he carried out the attacks, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years and 10 months, at which point he will be almost 80.

Worcester crown court heard Saberi attacked 51-year-old Griffiths with a baseball bat, as well as strangling and stabbing her in the neck, before stealing her laptop and Xbox and travelling to London where he handed himself in to police a few hours later.

Judge James Burbidge QC said: “There are a number of aggravating factors – Amy was killed in her own home and, when you left her dead, you stole some of her belongings – a despicable act. The violence you engaged in was extreme.”

The prosecutor, Rachel Brand QC, told the court how on 11 January 2019 Saberi stabbed a 59-year-old woman, the mother of his friend’s ex-partner, in the neck outside a shop after a drinking session. The victim recovered but was told by hospital staff she was “lucky and could have died”.

The next day Saberi messaged Griffiths to tell her he was coming to visit and travelled up to her housing association flat in Droitwich, a visit that came as a surprise to the victim.

Brand said Saberi and Griffiths had met online via a transgender dating site and had only met in person once before, in June 2018, but had exchanged numerous messages over a period of months which appeared to show an affectionate relationship.

Griffiths is believed to have been killed during the night of 13-14 January, with neighbours hearing some loud noises coming from the flat in the early hours.

Saberi, who is said to have a number of mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder, appeared at the sentencing hearing via video link from high-security Broadmoor hospital in Berkshire.

The judge said he accepted mental illness was a factor in the killing but “whether it was a significant factor is difficult to determine”.

He said there was no suggestion “this was a murder aggravated by hostility towards the deceased because of her transgender identity”.

Saberi had a string of previous convictions for violent crimes, starting with an indecent assault on a female in 1993, and in 2000 was sentenced to life imprisonment for a robbery where he entered a jewellery shop posing as a genuine customer and threatened staff with a gun.

Saberi initially pleaded not guilty to the murder before switching to a guilty plea the day his trial was due to begin in February.

Griffiths was described as a “hero” in the local LGBT+ community by friends.

DCI Carl Moore of West Mercia police’s major investigations unit said: “Martin Saberi is very obviously a dangerous and violent individual and today’s sentence reflects the horrific nature of both offences he pleaded guilty to, in which he attacked two women with a knife in completely unprovoked and unforgivable incidents.

“Amy was a much-loved, much-respected person who so many people have spoken warmly of and I know she is deeply missed by those whose lives she touched.”

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