Lodger, 42, ‘killed landlady and lived with her corpse as he plundered her bank account of benefits cash’

A LODGER throttled his landlady and lived with her rotting corpse for months while he plundered her bank account, a court heard.

Kristian Smith allegedly murdered 52-year-old Antoinette Donegan at her one-bedroom council flat in Battersea, South West London, last February.

 Antoinette Donegan was discovered dead at her home in Battersea

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Antoinette Donegan was discovered dead at her home in Battersea

The 42-year-old then pushed her clothes against the door to hide the stench and continued to live in the flat as she decomposed in her bedroom, it was said.

She was discovered just over a month later by police concerned for her welfare, the Old Bailey heard.

Cops climbed through the window of the flat and were hit with a strong odour coming from the bedroom.

They discovered Antoinette slumped in the corner of the room and a pile of clothes shoved in front of the door outside as a makeshift “draft excluder”, it was said.

BLOODBATH

Jurors heard within minutes of benefits being paid into her account, Smith withdrew hundreds of pounds using her bank card.

He also allegedly tried to sell her jewellery to fund his drug habit.

Louis Mably QC, prosecuting, said it was difficult to know exactly how Antoinette had died because of the state of decomposition.

He said: “It was clear that she must have been lying in her bedroom for a number of weeks.

“She appeared to have been assaulted. 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.”

‘BODY HIDDEN’

Jurors were told Antoinette and Smith went to the same recovery centre for drug addiction.

She was last seen on February 1 last year but her bank card continued to be used and her benefits withdrawn in the weeks before her body was found, it was said.

At 12.04am on February 4, £200 was withdrawn from an ATM just minutes after being paid in to the account, the court heard.

Mr Mably told jurors: “Someone knew the benefits were coming in at that time and someone had been standing, waiting at the cashpoint all that time.

“Unfortunately for Mr Smith, he was caught on CCTV using the bank card and when he was arrested he was found to have the bank card in his possession.

“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 Donegan’s benefits throughout February.”

Smith denies murder between January 31 and March 7 last year.

The trial continues.

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