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Former footballer jailed under double jeopardy laws

Published on 04/07/2009 09:00

A man has been imprisoned for life for killing his ex-girlfriend, seven years after being cleared of the crime.

Former Maidstone United player Mario Celaire, 31, was cleared in 2002 of killing 19-year-old Cassandra McDermott in Norbury, south-east London.

But after his next victim, another ex-girlfriend, told police he had confessed to Ms McDermotts killing, he was prosecuted under double jeopardy laws reformed in 2003.

A statement from the Metropolitan police confirmed the case was the first in London where a guilty verdict has been achieved under changes in the double jeopardy law.

Celaire, already a convicted rapist, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Ms McDermott in Norbury in October 2001 and to the attempted murder of Kara Hoyt, also 19 at the time, in her home in Walthamstow in February 2007.

He was jailed for a minimum of eight years for manslaughter and 23 years for attempted murder, with both sentences to run concurrently.

Both were struck over the head by Celaire, with Ms McDermott losing her life after choking on an undigested meal having been left unconscious following the attack.

Ms Hoyt was left paralysed and with severe communication difficulties after she was attacked in February 2007 but through "writing, drawing and gestures" was able to describe to police Celaires violence towards her.

She also told police Celaire had confessed to killing Ms McDermott, leading judges to quash the original not guilty verdict in March this year and add a murder indictment to his attempted murder indictment for the attack on Ms Hoyt.

Passing sentence today the judge said Celaire had "showed no mercy" to his victimised.

Miss McDermotts mother Jennifer praised Miss Hoyt for aiding the fight for justice for her daughter.

In a victim impact statement read to the Old Bailey she said: "My heart goes out to Kara for her bravery and determination.

"She has shown immense courage to see this process through of telling her story but also of the confession that Mario made to her of killing Cassandra.

"It was Karas determination for justice that made it possible for Cassandras case to be reopened."ADNFCR-2586-ID-19249904-ADNFCR
Former footballer jailed under double jeopardy laws
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