A homeless man has received a life sentence after confessing to the “brutal” murder of an Irishman in Kilburn nearly 40 years ago.
Anthony Kemp, who was 21 at the time, killed Dublin-born Christopher Ainscough with a marble ashtray after they met on a night out in December 1983.
The killing remained unsolved for decades before Kemp decided to confess in order to get himself off the streets.
Kemp, now 59, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 15 and a half years at the Old Bailey on Thursday last week.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, a close friend of Chris Ainscough said the brutality of the attack had “haunted” her ever since.
The elderly woman, who asked not to be named, described Mr Ainscough as like family.
She said: “Chris was a kind, generous, caring and funny man. We just adopted him.
“He was charming and had the extraordinary ability to get on with anybody and everybody.
“What someone did to my beautiful friend was devastating.”
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.”
The court had heard that Dublin-born Mr Ainscough, 50, had invited Kemp back to his home in Kilburn, North West London, in the early hours of the morning and was on the sofa when he was attacked.
Mr Ainscough was gay.
Kemp claimed he lost his temper when the victim made a pass at him.
The court also heard that Ainscough had been warned about inviting people he had just met to his flat in the past.
In December 1983, Mr Ainscough was found dead inside his home in Windmill Court, Shoot-Up Hill.
His body was discovered by police officers who went to check on him when the waiter did not turn up to work in the city.
He had suffered devastating head injuries, including a fractured skull from being hit with a marble ashstray weighing 2.4 kg and which was found at the scene.
But due to a lack of leads, the original murder investigation into Mr Ainscough’s death was closed in 1985.
The case remained unsolved for more than 35 years until last year when Kemp made a confession.
He turned up at Chiswick police station in West London and began to throw stones at the window before an officer came out to speak to him just after 4am.
Kemp told the officer he had murdered someone 40 years ago, saying he had “bashed his brains in” over an argument.
He said: “I’m not going to live on the f****** streets, that’s a fact. I’d rather the Government look after me.
“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 told police he did not know what had happened to spark the row.
He said the victim had been “sparko” after the first blow and he was “at his head going bosh, bosh, bosh”.
Before leaving the flat, he spent five minutes using a cloth to wipe down everything he had touched, including the ashtray, a glass and a door handle.
Kemp, who was previously an alcoholic and heroin user, retracted his confession three days later after being released on bail.
He blamed the killing on his accomplice in an aggravated burglary in 1988, who had killed himself in prison.
But police matched Kemp’s DNA to that left on a cigarette butt in an ashtray on a coffee table in Mr Ainscough’s sitting room.
Detective Inspector Maria Green, of Scotland Yard, said: “No unsolved murder investigation is ever closed and this case demonstrates that despite the passing of nearly four decades, justice can be attained for the family and friends of those who have been killed.
“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.”
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 judge said the “sustained assault on the defenceless victim” was born out of Kemp’s intoxication and violent temper triggered by the perceived actions of the victim.
It was a “dreadful act of violence” that would have been on Kemp’s conscience ever since, the judge said.