AN IMMIGRANT who overstayed his visa has been jailed for life after throttling his flatmate two days after Christmas and trying to blame the death on his victim’s alcoholism.

Damir Begmatov had been to the casino with his friend Ferdinand Castro on Sunday, December 27 last year, when he returned to the London Road flat he shared with Bobir Esanov and choked him to death.

The men, both from Uzbekistan, had a history of heavy drinking and fighting and the jury were showed a video of Begmatov strangling his victim until he passed out on another occasion.

Simon Russell-Flint QC prosecuting said Begmatov took a cord from a toolbox in the flat, wrapped it around his 36-year-old victim’s neck three or four times and suffocated him for up to two minutes.

“The deceased was a gentleman who trusted the defendant,” he said.

“The trust the defendant had for his flatmate was very much misplaced on this particular occasion.

“Begmatov continued to throttle Mr Esanov long after he lost consciousness.”

His victim, who was found with bruises to the back of his skull and injuries to his face would have passed out after just 20 seconds.

The 25-year-old launched the unprovoked attack just after 2.30am before going into Reading town centre.

He met Mr Castro again and threw his weapon in a bin before returning home and phoning an ambulance at 4.15am.

Begmatov fled to Swindon before being arrested on New Year’s Day.

Lewis Power QC defending said Begmatov, who has overstayed his visa to stay in the UK, was depressed and drank heavily at the time of the attack.

“He fears deportation back to Uzbekistan as Mr Esanov’s brother is a police officer and may influence what happens to him and his family.

“He lived a life on the edges of society punctuated by very heavy drinking, gambling and fighting.”

He said the strangulation was not sexual but stemmed from a fascination with losing consciousness.

Honorary Recorder Peter Lodder QC, sentencing: “When you called an ambulance you went through the charade of beginning to administer CPR that you knew would not have made any difference.

“When the paramedic arrived it looked to him, and to the police, that Mr Esanov had died by swallowing his own vomit.

“In two days suspicious injuries began to appear.

“You sought to explain it away by saying he died whilst he was drinking whilst you were out, or he had caused his own death or he had been in a road traffic accident.”

Begmatov was convicted by unanimous jury of one count of murder at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday September 14. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 15 years at the same court.