A man who stabbed his Aberdeen girlfriend to death is appealing his sentence, we can today reveal.
Keith Rizzo was jailed for a minimum of 22 years in April after being found guilty of murdering his partner Neomi Smith, 23, of Aberdeen.
The 23-year-old, of Brechin, flew into a jealous rage on June 8 2019 after seeing Neomi on the dancefloor of a Brechin pub near other men.
Care worker Neomi was wary Rizzo had attacked her before so she locked herself in at her nearby flat – but Rizzo forced his way in and stabbed her 32 times before alerting a neighbour, who called 999.
Rizzo later concocted a story suggesting Neomi owed money to men who raided her flat and attacked her while forcing him to watch.
However, the killer’s story changed several times during the police investigation and a jury took just over an hour to find him guilty of murder after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March.
Judge Lady Rae dubbed Rizzo’s explanation “fanciful”.
Just three days after the sentencing hearing, Rizzo’s solicitors submitted paperwork intimating they would appeal against his conviction and sentence, but it can now be revealed he is seeking only to get a more lenient sentence.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “A form of intimation of appeal against conviction and sentence was lodged on April 9.
“The appellant is no longer appealing against conviction. An appeal against sentence only was lodged on July 1.”
As the appeal case has not yet been called in open court, details of the grounds of appeal are unavailable.
Grounds sometimes include an argument that the judge misinterpreted sentencing guidelines or did not apply sentencing discounts, but the nature of this application might not be known for several months.
The next step is for Lady Rae to write a report giving her opinion on the case and on the grounds of appeal.
Another judge will then consider the grounds of appeal, Lady Rae’s submission and the case papers and decide whether or not to grant Rizzo leave to appeal.
If leave to appeal is not granted, Rizzo’s lawyers could ask for a second opinion and put the matter to three other judges. Should they refuse to reverse the decision, the matter would be closed.
If leave to appeal is granted, an appeal hearing would take place and Rizzo would be present in court.
Two judges would decide whether or not to grant the appeal, which could change the length of Rizzo’s sentence.
A timescale for the case is not yet unknown.
A source close to the case said: “It depends how long it takes for the trial judge to produce their initial report and how long it takes the other judge to consider it.
“The process can take a few months and, with the coronavirus pandemic, it is logical to assume there may be a backlog, which could mean this isn’t resolved until late on this year, if not into next year.
“I know of at least one other case where they were hoping to hold the appeal hearing in the autumn, but they said in March that a delay to early 2021 was likely, so that’s what we’re properly dealing with.”
A spokesman for Rizzo’s lawyers, Glasgow-based Graham Walker Criminal Defence Solicitors, confirmed an appeal had been made against sentence.