Chef stabbed wife's lover 'for honour'

By James Macintyre
Published: 02 October 2007

An Italian chef who described himself as "an executioner" went to the Devon home set up by his wife and her childhood sweetheart, who had met again via, and stabbed the man to death, a court has heard.

Francisco Matta, 56, tracked down the former RAF flight-lieutenant Stephen Keen, 54, and allegedly knifed him four times through the neck, driven by "revenge and perhaps notions of honour particular to Italians and not to the British," according to Martin Meeke QC, for the prosecution. "I am an executioner," Mr Matta later told police. "I hit the man. I came here to kill the man."

Susan Matta, who is English, and Mr Keen had met when they were 14 and 17 respectively, but lost touch more than 30 years ago after a minor tiff while he joined the RAF. In 2003 she married Mr Matta who had run Franco's restaurant in Braunton, North Devon. The couple moved to Sardinia to run a villa.

Mr Meeke told Exeter Crown Court yesterday that the defendant "was full of life with a raucous sense of humour and they fell in love. [Susan] says he worshipped the ground she walked on and she could not fault him as a husband."

But, after Mrs Matta decided to advertise the villa on Friendsreunited which people usually use to get back in touch with old friends and old flames Mr Keen posted a message to Mrs Matta. After email exchanges, they decided to live together before even meeting. She left Sardinia while Mr Keen left his wife, Doreen, and two children. The couple's new life began in Tiverton, Devon.

Mr Matta tracked down Mr Keen, crossed Europe, found the Tiverton house, knocked on the door and was invited in to talk.

Mr Matta allegedly said he had taken out a contract with a Mafia friend and demanded 36,000 to call it off. Mr Keen said he was calling the police, and Mr Matta struck, leaving a scene Mrs Matta described as "like a horror movie". Mr Matta is said to have told his wife: "My life is over. Now you will suffer as I am suffering."

Mr Matta says he was depressed and is guilty of manslaughter, not murder. The trial continues.


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