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Killer jailed after jeopardy case

3 July 09 16:33 GMT

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

Mario Celaire, 31, was cleared in 2002 of killing Cassandra McDermott, 19, in Norbury, south-east London, in 2001.

Celaire, who now admits manslaughter, received a minimum 23-year sentence at the Old Bailey for trying to murder another former partner, Kara Hoyte, 21.

He was prosecuted again under double jeopardy laws when Ms Hoyte told police Celaire had confessed to the killing.

He was also ordered to serve a minimum of eight years for Ms McDermott's manslaughter, to run concurrently.

The former Maidstone United footballer is the first person in the UK to be convicted of a crime for which he was previously acquitted by a jury.

'No mercy'

The convicted rapist, from Sydenham in south-east London, admitted trying to murder Ms Hoyte in a hammer attack, in February 2007.

Sentencing him, Judge Paul Worsley said Celaire had "showed no mercy" to his two victims.

"You present a very real and continuing danger to young women with whom you enter into a close relationship."

The judge said Celaire had waited until the last minute to plead guilty to see if the evidence of the severely disabled Ms Hoyte would stand up to scrutiny.

He told him: "Your delay in admitting these charges so long after the offences had been committed was callous and calculating."

The court was told about Ms Hoyte's "remarkable" courage which helped her to bring Celaire to justice, despite suffering brain damage in the attack, which left her left paralysed and barely able to speak.

The attack was so severe that parts of her brain were exposed when she was found in a pool of blood in her room.

While recovering in hospital she told her family about the attack using "writing, drawing and gestures".

The court heard that Celaire visited her in hospital while she was recovering, assuming she would never be able to tell her story.

Nine months after Celaire attacked her, Ms Hoyte told police that he had admitted killing Miss McDermott.

'Egotistical and narcissistic'

Simon Denison QC, prosecuting, said: "With the severity of her injuries it is remarkable that Kara survived.

"Physically, she is partially paralysed down her right side so that so that she has very limited use of her right arm and right leg.

"Her ability to speak is limited to single-word phrases. She uses writing, drawing and gestures to express herself."

A psychiatrist's report into Celaire said he had "significant egotistical and narcissistic elements to his personality" and had made "lengthy and persistent attempts to avoid responsibility for offences of the utmost seriousness".

In 2005, the law was changed to allow someone to be prosecuted more than once for serious offences, such as murder, where "compelling new evidence" exists.

Celaire had been acquitted of McDermott's killing by a jury. In 2006, Billy Dunlop was convicted of a murder for which he had previously been acquitted by order of a judge.

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