Killer an “anorak, not a balaclava”

A CONVICTED murderer will serve a minimum of seven years behind bars for making an arsenal of guns in his bedroom in Camden Town.

Christodoulos Sotiriou, 44, of Camelot House in Camden Park Road, pleaded guilty last month to 11 counts of making and possessing weapons including a Second World War-style Sten submachine gun capable of firing 550 rounds a minute, an improvised shotgun, a series of handguns and thousands of hollow-tipped bullets, which are banned under the Geneva Conventions.

Sotiriou, who had previously served 10 years in jail for stabbing to death Muswell Hill photographer Dietmar Kirchner in 1990 before being released on parole, had buried the weapons in Epping Forest to hide them from police.

Judge Peter Clarke QC sentenced him at Blackfriars Crown Court to a total of 53 years to run concurrently, meaning he will be considered for parole after seven years.

The judge said he was convinced loner Sotiriou had created the weapons out of fascination and not in order to use in committing a crime or to sell to others, and branded him “an anorak, not a balaclava”.

He said: “It seems at the first blush members of the public would shudder at considering what you were hiding in Epping Forest. I come to the conclusion that what you were hiding there is in no way connected with the very serious offence in 1990.

“Had there been any shadow of a connection between then and the violence this could cause the sentence would be the maximum on every single count.”

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Sotiriou stabbed Mr Kirchner to death after they bumped heads in Hornsey Swimming Pool in 1990. Mr Kirchner’s wife, the former Warner Bros film boss Maj Britt Kirchner, was informed of her husband’s death as she stood with Madonna and Warren Beatty on the red carpet at the premier of the movie Dick Tracey.

Because of his murder conviction Sotiriou is banned from possessing any type of firearm, but despite knowing this he set about making an arsenal at his home using metal working skills he had learned in prison.

Prior to the sentencing, Sotirou’s counsel Nick Doherty told the court that the closet gunsmith, who kept copies of white extremist literature at his home, had long harboured an obsession with the military – especially the Second World War. “He was fascinated by these things and set himself the challenge to make himself a firearm,” he said.

He said Sotiriou, who does not drink or smoke, had wanted to go to Cyprus and join the family farming business with his cousin when he was released from jail in 2000 but had not been able to raise the cash to make the trip.

The court also heard that once he realised the game was up, Sotiriou told the police where to find his ammunition cache and helped them assemble the shotgun. Judge Clarke ordered that Sotiriou’s weapons and gun making equipment be seized.

Det Sgt Mark Richards, whose team tracked down the cache of weapons in Epping Forest, said: “We are pleased with the sentence. Because he is back in prison for the murder he could be there for much longer than seven years.”