Armed robber who brutally murdered ‘LGBT hero’ he met on trans dating site jailed

Martin Saberi, 55, killed Amy Griffiths, 52, with “extreme violence” days after stabbing another woman in the neck outside a London shop

A killer who brutally murdered a trans woman dubbed a “hero of the LGBT community” after meeting her on a dating site has been jailed for life.

Convicted armed robber Martin Saberi, 55, bludgeoned Amy Griffiths, 51, with a baseball bat before strangling her and slashing her throat at her home in Droitwich, Worcestershire.

Saberi won the victim’s trust after striking up conversation with her on a trans dating app and exchanging messages in the months leading up to the attack.

He was on license after serving 16 years for armed robbery when he took a train from London to visit Ms Griffiths.

After killing the victim with “extreme violence,” he stole her belongings including an X-box and a laptop before fleeing the scene, Worcester Crown Court heard today.

When police arrested Saberi after Ms Griffith’s body was found, he reacted by clapping his hands in a “sardonic gesture,” the court was told.

Tributes poured in for Ms Griffiths at the time of her death, remembering her as a “lovely person” who “didn’t have a selfish bone in her body”.

She was described as a “hero” in the local LGBT community by friends after her body was found in Chalverton Court on January 14, 2019.

Chalverton Court

Saberi initially denied the horrific attack but admitted murder just before the opening of his scheduled trial on 15 February.

He also pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm in relation to a second victim who he stabbed in the neck outside a shop several days before the killing.

The vulnerable 59-year-old woman, who walked with the aid of a stick, was left needing 30 stitches and “most fortunate not to have died,” the court heard.

Prosecutor Rachel Brand QC said Saberi only appeared to have met Ms Griffiths once before murdering her, but said they had exchanged affectionate messages over a number of months.

Saberi was taken into custody at Stoke Newington Police sation on the evening of January 14 after he murdered Ms Griffiths in the early hours of the same day.

Ms Brand told the court: “He was obviously very intoxicated.

“He lay on the floor in the public area of the police station for quite some time.

“Eventually… he told the person on the front desk that he had killed his friend.

“He said it had happened at three o’clock in the morning, he gave his own name and he gave the name of Amy Griffiths.”

Saberi, of Brackley Close, Wallington, south London was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years and 10 months today.

Pointing out that he won’t be eligible for parole until he turns 80, Judge James Burbidge QC said: “Your position is aggravated by your previous convictions for violence, starting with an indecent assault on a female in 1993.

“In 2000, for an offence of robbery, you were sentenced to life imprisonment after you entered a jeweller’s shop, posed as a genuine customer and produced a gun.

“So far as the killing of Amy Griffiths is concerned, I accept that your mental illness was a factor in the killing. Whether it was a significant factor is difficult to determine.

“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 judge said he had decided to “draw back” from handing Saberi a whole life tariff – a type of sentence that would see him die in jail.

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

Detective Chief Inspector Carl Moore, of West Mercia Police, 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.”