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Lodger found guilty of killing Irish woman who took him

Antoinette Donegan

A man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a 52-year-old Irish woman who took him in as a lodger and then living in her flat for several weeks while he took her money.

Kristian Smith, 42, was convicted of killing Antoinette Donegan following a trial at the Old Bailey on Monday 27 January.

Smith had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and preventing a lawful burial but denied murder.

He will be sentenced at the same court with no date for this known yet.

The court heard police were called to Antoinette’s home address in Este Road, SW11 on Thursday 7 March 2019, following concerns for her welfare as she had not been seen for more than a month.

After receiving no answer at the front door, officers gained entry via a bedroom window and found Antoinette’s body.

The body was in a state of decomposition, indicating it has been there a number of weeks. However, there was a significant amount of blood on the floor by her head and on the furniture in the room.

As she lay dead in her bedroom, clothing had been pushed up against the bedroom door from the hallway to conceal the smell of the decomposing corpse and Smith continued to live in the one-bedroom council flat, the Old Bailey was told.

Detectives identified Smith, who had been living in the flat since November 2018, as the prime suspect.

Kristian Smith

Analysis of CCTV and Antoinette’s phone records revealed she had last been seen alive on Friday 1 February 2019.

By tracking the use of her bank card, detectives identified that Smith had used it on several occasions after Antoinette had been died to withdraw money.

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Detectives arrested Smith in Bridge Lane, Battersea, on Wednesday, 13 March. He was found in possession of Antoinette’s bank card, sim card and some of her jewellery.

Traces of blood on his trainers were also matched to Antoinette.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Antoinette had suffered a number of head injuries caused by a broken mug found in the bedroom. She had also suffered seven fractured ribs, injuries believed to be indicative of an assault.

Detective Chief Inspector John Massey, the officer in the case, said: “This is a tragic case in which Antoinette’s generosity in allowing Kristian Smith to stay in her flat has been abused in the worst way possible.

“Antoinette was a vulnerable individual who was battling addiction herself.

“We will never know what instigated Smith’s brutal attack on Antoinette. But, what we do know, is that he then carried on with his life as if nothing had happened. He stole her bank card and withdrew money, presumably to buy drugs. Despite knowing she was dead, Smith did not tell anyone and simply blocked up the bedroom door to conceal any smell.

“The injuries on Antoinette’s body were numerous and it was clear that Smith did not kill her in self-defence. I am glad the jury has seen through his lies and he now faces a long period in jail.”

Jurors heard that, within minutes of her benefits being paid into her account, Smith withdrew hundreds of pounds in cash using her bank card.

At 12.04am on February 4, Ms Donnegan’s benefits of more than £300 were paid in to her account and, two minutes later, £200 was withdrawn from an ATM machine, the court heard.

The court heard that Ms Donnegan and Smith shared a drug addiction and went to the same recovery centre.

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