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Minicab driver stabbed wife after paternity row, Old Bailey hears

Maria Mbombo died in May

10 November, 2016 — By William McLennan

Maria Mbombo died in May

A MINICAB driver stabbed his wife to death at their home in Belsize Park after she refused to confirm he was the biological father of their son, a court has heard.

Jose Leonardo, 56, stabbed his wife, Maria Mbombo, 52, “many times” with a kitchen knife at their flat in Chestnut House, Maitland Park Villas, during a row on May 18.

He admits unlawfully killing his wife, but denies murder on the grounds he “lost control”.

Asked why he had killed his wife, he told a jury at the Old Bailey he had been consumed by doubts about the paternity of their 27-year-old son, Jacque.

He said: “She couldn’t tell me if Jacque was my son. She wouldn’t let me do a DNA test. She made me understand that if I go to the DNA she would end the relation.”

The couple, who met in 1988, have three adult children, the court heard.

Mr Leonardo said that suspicions about his wife’s infidelity had driven him to drink. On the day he killed her he had returned home early, unable to work.

He said: “I had had enough. I said: ‘Today I need to know if this is my son’.”

Mr Leonardo told the jury that when he returned home he discovered that around £8,000 in cash, which the couple had been saving for a trip to their homeland, the Congo, was missing. An argument began when he demanded to know where the money was, Mr Leonardo claimed. He said his wife then picked up a knife and threatened to cut herself.

“In the end I just went for the knife, because she had it and she wanted to hurt herself,” he said. “I knew if she did that I would be in big trouble.

“She bit me in my hand. At that time I was already upset with everything that happened, so I just lost it. I just lost control. I took the knife and stabbed her.”

Mr Leonardo said he could not remember how many times he had stabbed her or which hand he held the knife in.

Under cross-examination, Mr Leonardo said: “I will tell you again there are things that happened that day that I don’t remember.”

He said: “What happened that day is not me. What happened that day, when I look at it today I can’t even believe what happened. I can’t believe I did this.”

The court had heard earlier that on the day he killed his wife he had searched the internet for the “most painful place to stab someone?” and “Can I survive stab in the eye?”.

Mr Leonardo told the court that he had been searching for ways to end his own life, but prosecutor John Price, QC, said: “That’s got nothing to do with ending your life. That’s got to do with inflicting maximum pain by stabbing. That’s what you were interested in finding out, wasn’t it?”

The court heard that Mr Leonardo, who has two teenage sons from a long-running affair, suspected that his wife was seeing another man.

Mr Price told him: “Your daughter Josi said you started to call your wife a whore.” Mr Leonardo responded: “Sir, I did not.”

Mr Price said: “She told us that you would go through her pictures. You would go through her conversations on Whats­App. She said there were occasions when her brothers would have to intervene to protect your wife from you.”

He said: “You were a controlling and possessive man, weren’t you? And when she didn’t do what you wanted you would use violence on her.”

Mr Leonardo said that the couple had been arguing more frequently over his suspicions that she was having an affair, but said of their 28-year relationship: “We had a normal relationship. We were very happy together.” Asked if they argued regularly, he said: “I would say like all couples, sometimes.”

The trial continues.


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