Antoinette Donegan's body was kept in her Este Road flat for around a month
January 28, 2020
A 42-year-old man has been found guilty of manslaughter at the Old Bailey this Monday (27 January) after battering a woman to death and then concealing her body for around a month. He had claimed at the trial that he had killed her in self-defence.
Kristian Smith had been living at the flat of 52-year-old Antoinette Donegan on Este Road. Neighbours became concerned after she had not been seen for some time and the police called at the flat to check on her welfare on 7 March 2019. Not receiving any response when they knocked on the front door they entered the flat through a bedroom window where they found Antoinette’s body.
The body was partly decomposed, suggesting it has been there a number of weeks. There was a significant amount of blood on the floor by her head and on the furniture in the room. Clothing had been pushed up against the bedroom door from the hallway to conceal the smell.
Homicide detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime team began an investigation and identified Smith, who had been living in the flat since November 2018, as the prime suspect.
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 the 4, 5, 20, 26 and 27 February to withdraw money. Smith also removed the SIM card from Antoinette’s mobile phone and put it in his handset.
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.”
Smith had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and preventing a lawful burial. He will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on a date yet to be decided.