THE man who murdered Heather Barnett has had his whole-life term quashed by the Court of Appeal.

The judgement followed a challenge by Danilo Restivo and three other convicts who were fighting their whole-life tariffs.

Their lawyers argued they should instead have been given life sentences with a direction about the minimum period they would have to serve.

Yesterday the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, quashed Restivo’s whole-life term and instead handed the killer a 40-year-minimum life prison term.

This is the earliest he will be eligible for parole.

Heather’s brother Ben Barnett said he was “disappointed”.

Italian Restivo, 40, was found guilty in June 2011 of the murder of mum-of-two Heather Barnett in Capstone Road, Charminster.

During his trial the jury heard evidence which the prosecution claimed proved he murdered 16-year-old Elisa Claps in Potenza, Italy, on September 12, 1993.

Sentencing Restivo for Heather’s murder, Judge Mr Justice Burnett said the evidence proved he murdered Elisa and he approached his sentencing as “though he had killed before”.

But the Lord Chief Justice concluded: “A defendant cannot simply be sentenced for offences of which he has not been convicted, or on the basis that he has in fact committed them. The ability of the judge to make findings that other offences have been committed does not extend to reaching a non-jury verdict about allegations put before the jury by way of similar fact evidence.”

He said that although the whole-life term must be quashed the term must be “very substantial”, adding that Restivo’s “extensive preparation for the killing”, “display of sexual perversions and sadism” and the mutilation of Heather’s body which he knew would be found by her children led the judges to set a minimum of 40 years.

Months after being found guilty of Heather’s murder, Restivo was convicted in his absence by an Italian court of the murder of Elisa Claps. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Speaking after the announcement yesterday, Ben Barnett said: “I’m disappointed the court reduced Restivo’s sentence as I feel the original sentence was a just and right one. Whilst 40 years is long, it does not preclude Restivo killing again on release.”

He said he did not want to criticise those who made the decision but added: “Perhaps a whole-life sentence would have given Restivo the opportunity to reflect upon what he has done but somehow, I doubt, that this would have ever have been the case.”