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Killer waiter 'squeezed the life' out of restaurant boss in drugs row - then went on a spending spree with his credit cards

The 33-year-old from Poynton placed a plastic bag over the head of his 61-year-old 'mentor' Giorgio Roncari then drove off in his Jaguar

Vincenzo Tavano, 33, of Park Road, Poynton, has been jailed for life after admitting the murder of Giorgio Roncari

A waiter who killed his restaurant manager best friend after a row over drugs then went on a spending spree using his credit cards.

After ‘squeezing the life’ out of Giorgio Roncari, murderer Vincenzo Tavano stole the well-known restaurant boss’s Jaguar.

The 33-year-old Italian placed a plastic bag over the 61-year-old restaurant manager’s head before taking cash and bank cards from his lifeless body.

Over the next few days he used the cards to make a variety of purchases ranging from a McDonald’s meal to a brand new iPhone.

Tavano was today jailed for life after admitting murder at Manchester Crown Square Court.

He must serve at least 17 years behind bars before he is considered for parole.

Sentencing Tavano, Mr Justice William Davis said the killer’s remorse and sorrow had come ‘rather late in the day’.

He added: “This was not a brief loss of temper. This was sustained over about a minute.”

Tavano and Mr Roncari, both originally from Milan, first became friends four years ago while both men were working in the restaurant trade.

The older man helped Tavano find work, allowed him to borrow his car and had became a respected ‘mentor’ to his killer, the court heard.

But their friendship came to an end when Tavano and his brother visited Mr Roncari at his plush Salford flat last April 15.

Arriving at the apartment on Blackburn Street, Trinity, for a social visit, things quickly became heated.

Cocaine-addicted Tavano asked his friend to sell him some drugs but Mr Roncari refused.

Tavano already owed money to Mr Roncari who refused to sell to him on credit, the court heard.

In a fit of rage Tevano grabbed his friend around the neck and started to choke until his eyes rolled back and he dropped to the floor.

The killer later told police he had placed a red plastic bag over Mr Roncari’s head to see if he was still breathing as he was not sure if his friend was dead.

Helping himself to £20 and several bank cards, Tavano also took Mr Roncari’s Jaguar from outside his home.

The car was later dumped on Chester Street in Manchester city centre at 4.50am by Tavano, who was caught on CCTV taking a taxi home to Poynton.

Within hours Tavano had used the bank cards to withdraw £270 from Mr Roncari’s account.

Over the next few days he made 18 purchases using Mr Roncari’s accounts including a chocolate bar, a McDonald’s meal, a coffee machine, a drill and a baseball cap from TK Maxx.

Mr Roncari, a manager at the Italian eatery Avalanche, had been facing trial after a raid on his home uncovered a stash of Class A drugs.

Just weeks before his murder, Mr Roncari appeared at Manchester Crown Court, where he entered not guilty pleas to three charges of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

As a condition of his bail he was required to report to Longsight Police Station each day.

When he failed to turn up on the weekend of April 15 and 16 police visited his flat the following Monday.

It was only then that Mr Roncari’s body was discovered and a murder investigation was launched.

After tracing online purchases which had been collected by Tavano using his friend’s bank cards, police also tracked him on CCTV buying items with Mr Roncari’s bank card.

Just days before the murder, Tavano had been sentenced for possession of cocaine and a baseball bat and was arrested while on community service on April 25.

He told officers Mr Roncari was a ‘kind man, a sweet man’ and a good friend who would lend him his bank cards because he knew he liked to spend money.

He initially told detectives his friend was ‘alive and well’ when he had left his flat on Friday night.

But he later admitted that they had argued and he had grabbed Mr Roncari around the neck choking him.

He insisted that he had not intended to kill him.

Andrew Thomas, defending, said former street cleaner Tavano is ‘truly sorry’ and had lived a ‘blameless life’ until recently.

The barrister said Tavano had been helping his friend to import and sell wine and almost all his income came from him.

“He did not intend to kill Mr Roncari but he accepts that in his anger he intended really serious harm,” he added.

Tavano, of Park Lane, Poynton, admitted murder.

Sentencing him to life, Mr Justice Davis said: “The man you killed was a good friend of yours. He was a man who was respected by friends and family and did a great deal of good for the community.

“You say you are truly sorry not least because he was such a good friend.

“On a visit to his home you asked him for drugs and because you had not the means to pay, he refused. Instead you began to strangle him and you accept it was about a minute that you were squeezing the life out of him.

“Having killed him and put a plastic bag over his head you went through his flat and stole what you could.

“Instead of grieving or seeking assistance you gathered up his bank cards and set about fleecing his bank and credit card accounts and spent about a week doing so.

“This leads me to believe that the remorse and sorrow you feel has come rather late in the day.”

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Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe of Greater Manchester Police’s Major Incident Support Unit, said: “Tavano’s anger fuelled his actions that night, taking a man’s life over a dispute.

“The immoral and opportunist behaviour he displayed after he murdered a man proves there is no place better for him than behind bars.

“Giorgio was a well-liked and popular man in Salford and will be terribly missed.

“My thoughts remain with his family and friends at this time.”

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