A balaclava-clad psychotic man who used a sledgehammer and kitchen knife to brutally murder a young Sicilian couple has been detained in a secure unit.

Andrea Cardinale was in the grip of a schizophrenic episode when he bludgeoned 26-year-old Antonio Calabro, known as Nino, to death before turning his attention and his fiancé Francesca Di Dio late last year.

He was caught on CCTV chasing the 20-year-old through the flats before throwing her down the stairs and bludgeoning her to death in the basement.

The Northern Echo: Andrea CardinaleAndrea Cardinale (Image: Cleveland Police)

The 22-year-old then went to a service station to fill a fuel can with diesel before dousing it all over the flat in Thornaby.

Cardinale’s family were so concerned about the state of his mental health that his father travelled to the UK to try to persuade his son to come home.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant was hearing voices urging him to kill the couple in the belief that they had put the ‘evil eye’ on him.

The judge was told how Cardinale and Nino had been friends for a number of years and had trained together to work as croupiers in casinos and both moved to the UK in 2019.

The Northern Echo: Francesca Di Dio and Nino Calabrò in the Thomas Sheraton in StocktonFrancesca Di Dio and Nino Calabrò in the Thomas Sheraton in Stockton (Image: Social media)

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said Nino suffered at least two blows to the head rendering him immediately unconscious before Francesca tried to flee for her life.

He said: “The defendant can be seen on CCTV chasing Francesca upstairs. He was wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife.

“He got his sledgehammer and held Francesca at the top of the stairs. He was then seen to drag her down to the basement.

"He collected the sledgehammer, before returning to the basement.”

The Northern Echo: Andrea Cardinale being arrestedAndrea Cardinale being arrested (Image: Cleveland Police)

The court heard how post mortems revealed how both victims died as a result of blunt force injuries consistent with the use of a sledgehammer.

Cardinale pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The Northern Echo: Andrea Cardinale filling up the fuel canAndrea Cardinale filling up the fuel can (Image: Cleveland Police)

Peter Makepeace KC, mitigating, said it is impossible to put into words the devastation that the victims' families have suffered.

He said he was extremely grateful to the three medical experts who all agreed on the diagnosis of his client and recommended that a hospital order was the appropriate sentence for the 22-year-old.

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, passed an indeterminate hospital order after hearing medical reports into the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the killings.

“I’m not going to rehearse again the facts of the terrible and truly horrific episode in which you attacked Antoniu and Francesca in the flat where they lived.

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“Suffice to say it was wholly unprovoked, unforeseen and unpredictable,” he said.

"For some time prior to the killing, you had clearly been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia - which presented itself in an acute and graphic way in the early hours of that day.

“It was truly awful. Unimaginable and the consequences to the families of Antonino and Francesca have been utterly devastating.

“I have listened to the parents’ victim personal statements and I am acutely conscious that nothing that I say can soften or lessen the intense and acute pain and sense of loss which they must feel and will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”