Killer jailed seven years after he was cleared

A FOOTBALLER was given two life sentences yesterday after he admitted killing his former girlfriend, seven years after being cleared of the crime.

Mario Celaire, 31, was told he must serve a minimum term of eight years, after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Cassandra McDermott.

He was given a concurrent life term of at least 23 years for the attempted murder of Kara Hoyte, another ex-girlfriend, in a hammer attack six years later.

The former Maidstone United player was cleared in 2002 over the death of Miss McDermott, 19, whom he beat unconscious and left to choke on an undigested Chinese takeaway.

The verdict was later quashed on appeal under new double jeopardy laws.

The Old Bailey heard that it was the first case under the new rules in which a defendant who has previously been acquitted by a jury has been convicted.

It was the "remarkable" courage of Miss Hoyte, who was left brain-damaged after Celaire attacked her, that helped bring him to justice for both crimes, the court was told.

She gave an account to police and family using "writing, drawing and gestures", despite injuries that left her paralysed and severely mentally disabled.

There was loud applause and a shout of "rot in hell" in court yesterday 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 last minute to plead guilty to see if the evidence of Miss Hoyte would stand up to scrutiny.

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

"Both girls were vulnerable. They were alone, they trusted you, they let you into their homes where they thought they were safe, and you showed them no mercy."