NEWS
01/11/2018 16:00 GMT | Updated 01/11/2018 16:38 GMT

Jesse McDonald Jailed For 20 Years For Murdering Transgender Woman

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PA
Jesse McDonald was jailed for 20 years for the murder of Naomi Hersi 

A university drop-out has been jailed at the Old Bailey for at least 20 years for murdering a transgender woman in a Heathrow hotel room.

Former A grade student and tennis ace Jesse McDonald, 25, contacted 36-year-old Naomi Hersi through dating website Fabswingers.com, a jury heard.

After three days together, McDonald drugged and stabbed the hospitality worker to death with a knife and a broken bottle.

He then spun a web of lies to his mother, who lived in Haywards Heath in Sussex.

He hid in his room as he waited for his 18-year-old girlfriend Natalia Darkowska to help clean up, jurors were told.

But the plan to dispose of the body was scuppered when police found the victim lying half-naked, partly covered by a rug on the small bathroom floor.

Former London School of Economics undergraduate McDonald denied murder, claiming he acted in self-defence.

He and Darkowska, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, both denied perverting the course of justice following the killing in March.

The couple wept and embraced in the dock as they were found guilty of the charges following a trial at the Old Bailey in October.

McDonald was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years for murder with 30 months concurrent for the second offence.

Judge Mark Dennis QC rejected the defendant’s claims he was drugged, raped and held in a “death grip” by the victim.

He pointed out his capacity for mixing up fact and fiction, saying McDonald had a complete disregard for anyone but himself.

The judge said: “This was a dreadful assault on someone who it would appear will have been in no position to respond to an attack by you using a weapon. He was overwhelmed by the nature of your violence.”

Earlier in mitigation, Michael Turner QC told how McDonald had a “promising academic career” which was cut short when his drink was spiked in 2014.

The defendant’s parents, who attended the trial, sent a letter to the judge expressing their sorrow.

In a victim impact statement, Hersi’s family described her as a “sweet and trusting” person who was “funny and carefree”.

Her sister Amina, a hospital doctor, was the first to hear the news of her death while at work.

Father Mohamed Duale described the murder as the “ultimate injustice”.

He said: “Our lives will never be the same. The grief has swallowed us up. It’s consumed us. Maybe one day it will not be so painful but the violence of his death haunts us.”