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By Dan Bloom for MailOnline
Published: 17:56 GMT, 20 October 2014
A plasterer stabbed his identical twin to death in their parents’ kitchen on New Year’s Eve before fleeing barefoot and partying with friends until 2am.
Robert Cerqua was found guilty today of murdering his brother Christopher after the drunk 31-year-olds began arguing about the past at the family home in Hythe, Hampshire.
As the tussle escalated, their parents called 999 and pleaded with police to break up the fight, before the operator heard their father cry: ‘He’s stabbed him’.
Robert Cerqua insisted he acted only in self-defence, but the jury of nine men and three women took 16 hours to find him guilty of murder.
He showed no emotion in the dock at Winchester Crown Court, where the verdict was met with a cry from the public gallery.
His murder trial heard an ‘extremely drunk’ Cerqua left barefoot after stabbing his brother with a kitchen knife, leaving a seven-inch wound in his stomach.
He joined his girlfriend at a New Year’s Eve party and turned off his phone so he could not be reached, while his father Peter was left trying to stem Christopher’s bleeding with a tea towel.
The professional carpenter had a cardiac arrest less than an hour later and was declared dead in hospital.
Police found Robert at a party in nearby Totton at 2.20am and told him what he was being arrested for – to which he replied: ‘Murder?’
Distressing: The twins’ parents Denise and Peter, pictured outside court, called 999 for help
He then fell asleep in the back of a police car on the way to Southampton Central Police station, the court heard. When he woke up, he said: ‘Is he dead? You are lying, he cannot be’.
While being taken to his cell, he added: ‘Was it me? Was it me? I cannot remember. Honestly, is my brother dead?’
And when he was told the charge against him the next day, he allegedly said: ‘I killed my f****** brother. I don’t want to be here any more.
‘Nine times out of ten it would be all right. [That’s] just my luck, he had to die on me.’
Prosecutor Nicholas Haggan QC said the brothers had spent a ‘happy and relaxed’ evening drinking at their parents’ terraced house from 6pm on December 31 last year.
Robert sent a string of texts to his girlfriend, Joelle Mansfield, which revealed how the mood deteriorated.
An earlier message from Cerqua read: ‘I cannot wait to marry you!!! xxx’, followed at 6.30pm by: ‘Yes sexy. Chris wishes happy ‘New Year! xxx’.
But at 7pm he wrote: ‘Me and Chris are going at it. Talking about past. We got things to sort out but all good. Enjoy your night my lovely, I love you’.
At 8:10pm he added: ‘There might be a fight in a minute. This is my life!! Don’t want this but what can I do. Had enough. Sorry but this is what I have got to put up with and I hate it. This is my life. Sorry, but blokes. Want to f*** off anywhere but here’.
Mr Haggan told the jury of nine men and three women: ‘This is a tragic case. In a nutshell, it was New Year’s Eve last year and both brothers had been drinking.
‘Shortly before 9pm an argument started between the two brothers and that argument appears to have turned into a tussle. Punches may have been exchanged.
‘At some point, this defendant picked up a kitchen knife and he used it to stab his brother.
‘The defendant inflicted just one wound, but the tract of that wound was quite long, about 15 – 17 centimetres or approximately six or seven inches, and it punctured the aorta, the principle artery which runs down a person’s trunk.
‘That injury caused major internal bleeding and Christopher’s subsequent collapse.’
A post mortem showed Christopher had 230 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, around three times the drink drive limit. Traces of cannabis and antidepressants were also found.
His face was bruised from a punch and where he fell to the ground.
Robert told police he had drunk six cans of lager and two glasses of red wine before leaving the house.
In interviews, Robert Cerqua said his brother had been threatening him with the knife and he had either taken it, or picked up another, in a bid to defend himself.
The kitchen knife said to have been used – its handle broken and the blade bent – was discovered in the kitchen sink.
DNA found on the knife matched both the defendant and his brother because, as identical twins, they shared the same DNA profile.
In his first police interview on New Year’s Day, Robert described his relationship with Christopher as ‘fiery’ and said drink could make him ‘nasty’ and ‘short-tempered’.
He added: ‘We started arguing, I do not know about what… All I can remember is he picked a knife up and walked towards me and I sort of panicked.
‘I do not remember much. I punched him – I had a knife in my hand. He yelped and I ran out of the door.’
In a later interview he said he had not intended to kill his brother but had ‘just reacted’.
Christopher Cerqua was described in tributes as ‘thoughtful and caring’, and had recently got back together with girlfriend Lisa Harfield, 40, a receptionist.
The couple had previously dated for six years and her son and three daughters described him as a ‘father figure’.
Sentencing is due to take place at Winchester Crown Court tomorrow.