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Woman ‘murdered by lodger then left to rot as he plundered her bank account’

Woman 'murdered by lodger then left to rot as he plundered her bank account'

Antoinette Donnegan was found dead in her flat on Este Road in Battersea, south west London (Picture: Central News/Google)

A lodger killed his landlady and carried on living with her decomposing corpse for more than a month while helping himself to her benefits, a court heard.

Kristian Smith, 42, is said to have murdered 52-year-old Antoinette Donnegan at her one-bedroom council flat in Battersea, south west London, last February.

As she lay dead in a corner of the bedroom Smith piled clothes up against the door to act as a crude draft excluder, jurors were told.

The Old Bailey heard that hundreds of pounds was later withdrawn from Ms Donnegan’s account within minutes of her benefits being paid.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told jurors: ‘Unfortunately for Mr Smith he was caught on CCTV using the bank card.

‘What he was doing was concealing the dead body by putting clothes against the door to hide the smell and using the bank card to take Ms Donnegan’s benefits.’

The court heard it was difficult to know precisely how she had died due to the state of decomposition.

Pic shows Antoinette Donnegan An alleged killer accused of throttling a woman then living alongside her corpse has denied murder. Kristian Smith, 42, allegedly strangled 52-year-old Antoinette Donnegan at a flat in Este Road, Wandsworth, southwest London. She was killed on either 1 or 2 February this year but her body was not was discovered until more than a month later on 7 March, it is claimed. A post-mortem found she had seven broken ribs, a deep gash to her head, and had been choked with items of clothing. SEE STORY CENTRAL NEWS

Jurors heard Ms Donnegan was killed on either February 1 or 2 but her body was not discovered until more than a month later (Picture: Central News)

Ms Donnegan was last seen on February 1 last year, but it was not until March 7 that police finally discovered her body after concerns were raised for her welfare.

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

A drugs outreach team based in Battersea contacted police informing them one of their patients, Ms Donnegan, was missing.

Officers attending her address were let inside the block by a neighbour.

Describing the moment they reached her front door, Mr Mably told jurors: ‘[They] noticed a strong smell coming from inside the flat.

‘In fact, a neighbour had already noticed the smell days or weeks before and initially thought it was a rubbish bag.’

Este Road, Wandsworth, southwest London. Woman murdered by lodger then left to rot as he plundered her bank account Picture: Google Maps METROGRAB

Jurors heard police ‘noticed a strong smell coming from inside the flat’ (Picture: Google)

Jurors heard it was obvious Ms Donnegan had been lying dead in the flat ‘for a number of weeks’ and it was equally ‘clear she had been assaulted’.

Mr Mably said: ‘There was blood on the floor by her head, and there was blood on furniture in the bedroom. There was a pool of blood around her head and she had cuts to her head.

‘But there was a third significant matter which the police noticed straight away which was very odd and shed light on what had happened, and it was this.

‘When [the officer] opened the bedroom door, what he noticed was that there was a pile of clothing in the hall that was pushed up against bedroom door, operating as a draft excluder.

‘And the implication was that someone had done this in order to conceal the smell coming from the bedroom – the smell of Antoinette’s decomposing corpse.

‘So, there was someone who knew she had died, but rather than calling the police had tried to prevent the body from being discovered.

‘And the question was, of course, who was this person?

‘Well, there was one very obvious candidate. Because it transpired that she had a lodger. And that lodger was this defendant, Kristian Smith.’

Smith, of no fixed address, denies murder.

His trial continues.



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