'Double jeopardy' thug who confessed killing to his new lover jailed for 23 years after she comes round from coma
By Rebecca Camber
Daily Mail online 03rd July 2009
A callous and calculating killer was jailed for life today for a murder that he had been acquitted of seven years earlier in a landmark double jeopardy case.
But yesterday he was sentenced to a minimum of 23 years behind bars at the Old Bailey for battering her to death and for a second attack on another girlfriend who he bludgeoned with a hammer, leaving her severely brain damaged and disabled.
Footballer Mario Celaire was found guilty of the manslaughter of Cassandra McDermott, even though he was cleared of her killing seven years ago
The former professional footballer and builder beat 19-year-old Cassandra McDermott to death in an explosion of violence in November 2001.
But he was cleared of murder and manslaughter the following year after claiming he left her 'alive and well' minutes before her death.
In 2007 he struck again, attacking his 19-year-old former lover Kara Hoyte with a hammer in her home.
The 19-year-old aspiring model was found barely conscious lying in a pool of blood with her skull fractured in three places.
Celaire was only brought to justice through the heroic efforts of Miss Hoyte who identified him as her attacker from her hospital bed days after coming out of a coma.
Unable to speak, she repeatedly hit her fist on a white board bearing his name after her mother Eunice Lander wrote out a name of suspects.
Suffering from speech difficulties, it took almost a year before she was able to speak to detectives, telling them Celaire had previously confessed to her that he killed Miss McDermott.
Kara Hoyte was left paralysed and barely able to speak after she was savagely beaten with a hammerIn a landmark case lawyers for the Crown applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions to re-open the inquiry into Miss McDermott's killing.
Celaire's acquittal was quashed in the Court of Appeal after the 800-year-old 'double jeopardy' law was scrapped in 2005 by then home secretary David Blunkett.
Previously anyone acquitted by a jury could not be retried for the same offence, but suspects acquitted by a jury can now be retried if 'new and compelling' evidence is produced.
Celaire became the first person to be convicted of a crime for which a jury had cleared him in May this year.
Yesterday the families of his two victims cheered, screaming 'liar' and 'dead man walking' as he was given double life sentences.
Miss Hoyte, who was present in court, sobbed uncontrollably, clutching her mum, Mrs Lander for support.
Yesterday she issued a moving statement as she faced the man who tried to kill her.
Prosecuting, Simon Denison, QC, read out a letter to Celaire on her behalf as Miss Hoyte, now 21, suffers from the language disorder aphasia.
She said: 'Why did you do this to me, why could you not just leave me alone?
'I stand here today for you to see what you did to me.
'I don't hate you, I pity you.
'I will get better and better with each day and stronger, you have only damaged my shell.
Kara Hoyte was able to tell police that Celaire was her attacker and that he had confessed to a previous killing'I am still the same determined and strong person I always was.
'I leave here today free with the whole world at my feet and a new life and to be whatever I choose to be.
'You on the other hand have a long time to reflect and to understand you cannot control another person.'
The court heard Celaire was a narcissistic control freak with a history of violence against young women. At the age of 15 he was jailed for four years for raping a young schoolgirl.
On his release the Maidstone United player went on to form a relationship with 15-year-old Miss McDermott whom he regularly punched.
On November 26, 2001 the 24-year-old beat Miss McDermott unconscious at her mother's house in Granville Gardens, Norbury, south London, before fleeing.
She was later found dead by her sister having choked on her own vomit.
In November 2002 an Old Bailey jury acquitted Celaire of both murder and manslaughter after less than three hours deliberation.
The case remained unsolved until December 2007 when Celaire was charged with the attempted murder of Miss Hoyte at a flat in Walthamstow.
Detectives believe that Celaire may have attempted to kill Miss Hoyte to stop her telling police about his first victim after Celaire confessed when he was confronted by Miss Hoyte who found court papers relating to his acquittal.
Judge Paul Worsley QC told Celaire said: 'Your delay in admitting these charges so long after the offences had been committed was callous and calculating.
'In the case of Cassandra's family, they no longer have the joy of seeing her progress through life.
'In the case of Kara, her family have the heartache of a life forever changed.
'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.
'In my judgement you present a very real and continuing danger to young women with whom you enter into a relationship.'