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  1. ITV Report

Lodger guilty of killing a woman and living with her corpse

A lodger has been found guilty of killing a woman and living with her decomposing body in a flat in Battersea.

Antoinette Donegan Credit: Met Police

Antoinette Donegan, 52, died last February. Kristian Smith, 42, continued to live in the one-bedroom flat and used her bank card and mobile phone, as she lay dead in her bedroom.

Police eventually discovered the body in March after concerns were raised for her welfare.

Smith had admitted fraud and preventing the lawful burial of a body, but denied murder.

A jury deliberated for nine hours to clear him of murder, but find him guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter, by a majority of 11 to one.

Judge Philip Katz QC adjourned sentencing until a date to be fixed.

During the trial, prosecutor Louis Mably QC said Ms Donegan appeared to have been assaulted.

There was blood on the floor by her head, and there was blood on furniture in the bedroom. And she had cuts to her head.

– Louis Mably QC, prosecutor

He told jurors that officers noticed clothes had been pushed against the door as a makeshift "draught excluder".

It obviously wasn't Antoinette Donegan who had done this - she had died inside the bedroom. Someone else had done this.

And the implication was that someone had done this in order to conceal the smell coming from the bedroom - the smell of her 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.

– Louis Mably QC, prosecutor

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

She was last seen on February 1 last year, but her bank card continued to be used and her benefits withdrawn, jurors heard.

CCTV was shown of Smith using the victim's bank card following her death.

Mr Mably said: "He must have taken the bank card and mobile telephone from the flat, knowing that Antoinette Donegan was dead.

"And he continued to live there - pushing clothing up against the bedroom door to contain the smell of her decomposing corpse."