Anthony Kemp: Homeless man who confessed to 1983 murder to ‘get looked after’ is jailed for life

A homeless man has been jailed for life after confessing to a “brutal” murder that took place almost 40 years ago.

Anthony Kemp was 21 when he attacked Christopher Ainscough, 50, with a marble ashtray after they met on a night out in December 1983.

The original police investigation was closed in 1985 due to a lack of leads, but last year Kemp, now 59, confessed to the decades-old killing as a way to get off the streets.

Mr Ainscough’s body was discovered inside his flat in Kilburn, northwest London, after he failed to turn up to his job as a head waiter at a restaurant in the City.

He had suffered devastating injuries, including a fractured skull, from being hit with the 2.4kg ashtray – which was found at the scene.

On 28 July last year, the cold case was reopened when Kemp turned up at a Chiswick police station in west London around 4am.

Kemp told an officer he had “bashed [Mr Ainscough’s] brains in” over an argument.

“I’m not going to live on the f****** streets, that’s a fact. I’d rather the government look after me,” he said.

“I’d rather do the last few years of my life in bang-up than sleep on the streets.”

He added: “For 40 years I got away with it and now I’m owning up to it.”

He said he did not know what had sparked the row, but before leaving his victim’s flat he had spent five minutes using a cloth to wipe down everything he had touched, including the ashtray, a glass and a door handle.

Three days later he retracted the confession after being released on bail and tried to blame it on an accomplice, but police matched his DNA to that left on a cigarette butt in Mr Ainscough’s sitting room.

Kemp pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 15 and a half years at the Old Bailey.

The court had heard that Dublin-born Mr Ainscough, 50, had invited Kemp back to his Kilburn home, and was on the sofa when he was attacked.

Judge Mark Dennis QC told Kemp: “This was a wholly unjustified, brutal killing that led to the death of a harmless, well-respected, good-natured man who had befriended you and caused you no harm.”

The court also heard that Kemp had previous convictions for burglary and possession of a knuckle duster in 1980 and had served jail time for aggravated burglary in 1988.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, a close friend of Mr Ainscough described him as like one of her family.

The elderly woman, who asked not to be named, said: “Chris was a kind, generous, caring and funny man. We just adopted him.”

Kemp killed a “very special person” as if it did not matter, then “walked free” for almost 40 years, living the life her friend should have had, she said.

She added: “The brutality of what was done has haunted me.”

Detective Inspector Maria Green, of Scotland Yard, said: “Anthony Kemp kept his secret for nearly 40 years, despite knowing that Christopher’s friends and family would have been distraught that the person who had violently attacked him remained at large.

“He has finally done the right thing and confessed to his crime and now will face the consequences of his actions.”

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