Man's 'double jeopardy' trial ends with guilty verdict

Footballer convicted of killing ex-girlfriend after acquittal seven years ago

A violent footballer who beat his ex-girlfriend to death yesterday became the first person acquitted of a crime to be jailed for it under new "double jeopardy" laws. The former Maidstone United player Mario Celaire, 31, must serve a minimum of eight years after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Cassandra McDermott.

He was given a concurrent life term, to serve at least 23 years, for the attempted murder of Kara Hoyte, another former girlfriend, in a hammer attack six years after he was cleared in 2002 over the death of Ms McDermott, 19. Celaire beat her unconscious and left her to choke on an undigested Chinese takeaway. The verdict was quashed on appeal.

The "remarkable" courage of Ms Hoyte, who was left brain-damaged after Celaire attacked her, helped bring him to justice for both crimes, the Old Bailey was told. She gave an account to police and family using "writing, drawing and gestures" despite appalling injuries that left her paralysed and severely mentally disabled.

There was loud applause and a shout of "Rot in hell" in court as Celaire, a convicted rapist with a history of violence against women, was jailed. Judge Paul Worsley told Celaire, of Sydenham, south-east London: "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 very last minute to plead guilty to see if the evidence of his severely disabled victim would stand up to scrutiny. Ms Hoyte was on the verge of tears during the sentencing as she held hands with her mother Eunice Lander, who comforted her as the harrowing details of the case were read out.

The judge said a presentence report about Celaire revealed his "desire to remain in control" of any relationships. A psychiatrist had 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", he added. Ms Hoyte, like Celaire's previous victim, was 19 when he attacked her in February 2007, and had also recently dumped him for another man after their abusive relationship. Like Ms McDermott, she was just 15 when her affair with him began.

After the attack by Celaire she was found lying in her bedroom in Walthamstow, east London, covered in blood. She had suffered such severe injuries that parts of her brain were exposed.

The court heard Celaire "callously" visited her in hospital days after the attack, thinking she would never be able to tell her story. Her mother was with her and encouraged him to hold her hand but she pushed him away and put her hand over her face. Later, she identified him as her attacker when her mother wrote a series of names on a board and she pointed and banged at the word "Mario".

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 clarified the previous prohibition on trying someone for the same crime a second time if they had been acquitted at the first trial. The MacPherson Report (after the murder of Stephen Lawrence) proposed that double jeopardy should be abolished when "fresh and viable" evidence came to light. The 2003 Act requires all cases to be approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Court Of Appeal must agree to quash the original acquittal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk