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Man and woman convicted in connection with the murder of Naomi Hersi

News   •   Oct 26, 2018 15:12 BST

Jesse McDonald [left] and Natalia Darkowska [right]

Two people have been convicted in connection with the death of Naomi Hersi.

Jesse McDonald, 25 (10.04.93) of Haslemere Avenue, Hounslow, was found guilty today (Friday, 26 October) by a jury at the Old Bailey of murdering 36-year-old Naomi Hersi, a transgender woman from north London. He was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

McDonald’s girlfriend, Natalia Darkowska, 18 (07.06.00) of Barons Crescent, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

McDonald will be sentenced at the same court on Thursday, 1  November; Darkowska will be sentenced on Friday, 16 November.

The court heard that on Monday, 12 March, McDonald had been with his girlfriend, Darkowska, in Wiltshire. He returned to London at approximately 22:00hrs.

Within 45 minutes of returning to his address in Hounslow, McDonald had logged into his account on fabswingers.com and found Naomi Hersi’s profile and made direct contact behind his girlfriend’s back.

At 22:48hrs, the suspect and victim had a seven-minute phone conversation where he admitted to looking for a sexual encounter with transgender female, Naomi.

At around 23:50hrs, McDonald left to drive his BMW to Naomi’s address in Mill Hill and arrived almost an hour later. He remained at the address until Wednesday, 14 March, where Naomi and McDonald ordered takeaway pizza. During this time, McDonald’s girlfriend attempted to call and message him, which he ignored. Later in the afternoon, he replied, "I’m sorry all ok. I’ll call u later and explain x". He then went shopping with Naomi.

McDonald and Naomi were together constantly for almost three days during which McDonald continued to ignore his girlfriend’s calls and texts until the evening of Thursday, 15 March.

Naomi and McDonald arrived at McDonald's address in Hounslow at 20:40hrs on Thursday, 15 March. This was the last time Naomi was seen alive.

On Friday, 16 March at 01:00hrs, McDonald texted his girlfriend, Natalia Darkowska, saying that he had "been a […] idiot" and that he had "not cheated" but had "got addicted to a nasty drug" that he claimed he’d never had before.

He continued to message Darkowska saying: "got a big drug dealer … lying across my floor right now … won’t wake up."

Claiming not to have slept in three-four days and that he had had a knife held to his throat at times by Naomi, McDonald also confessed to taking methamphetamine and crystal meth, and gave the impression that he was in danger. He also claimed he had been given the drug GHB.

On Saturday, 17 March at about 09:00hrs Darkowska made her way to the Hounslow address, arriving just after midday.

Naomi had been murdered by the time Darkowska arrived. Her badly wounded and bloodied body was in the en-suite bathroom.

Surprisingly, Darkowska's reaction was not to immediately leave the scene, but rather to apply herself to the task of cleaning up the blood that was all over the room.

Both suspects left the property around eight hours later on foot with luggage.

They caught a taxi further down the road from the address that took them to the Park Hotel in Park Road, Teddington arriving at around 22:30hrs.

During the time both suspects had been cleaning, McDonald had phoned his mum and lied to her, saying he had gone to meet somebody who did not turn out to be who he was expecting to meet. He continued lying by saying he could not remember everything that had happened but that he had been chained up for days, drugged with GHB and repeatedly raped.

He claimed he had escaped from them by leaving with one of the group who pretended to be very feminine but was actually very violent and would now not leave his room.

McDonald described confronting Naomi and claimed that she had grabbed him around the throat tightly before glancing at a pillow. Thinking she was going to smother him with the pillow, he hit her over the head with a bottle cutting her.

He claimed he was fighting for his life for six hours during which he picked up a knife and repeatedly stabbed Naomi, killing her.

Following this conversation, McDonald’s mother called police.

On Sunday, 18 March at approximately 10:15hrs McDonald used Darkowska’s phone to call the owner of the Hounslow address. He told the owner that he had been kidnapped and he had not slept for six days. He also said he’d been drugged and asked the landlord to attend as there had been a fight.

At 10:42hrs he called his landlord again to tell him that if he (the landlord) cleared up the room he’d be given a designer watch.

He called a third time at 10:46hrs and again at 10:50hrs.

It was during the fourth call to the landlord that he confessed he had killed someone. He claimed that nobody would look for the person he had killed.

Less than ten minutes after the fourth call, police and London Ambulance Service arrived at the Hounslow property and found Naomi’s body in the bathroom covered with a rug. She was pronounced dead at 11:20hrs.

The murder weapon, a knife, was found in the bottom of the shower next to her body.

Officers tracked McDonald’s phone to the Park Hotel, Teddington and arrived at 14:35hrs. As officers were asking which room McDonald and Darkowska were staying in, the suspects were leaving via the rear of the property where they were stopped by officers and arrested on suspicion of murder.

During police interview McDonald continued to claim he had been bound and raped.

On Monday, 19 March, a post-mortem examination took place at Fulham Mortuary and found the cause of death to be multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck. Naomi had also suffered stab wounds to her arms, legs and back.

On Tuesday, 20 March, McDonald was charged with the murder of Naomi Hersi and Darkowska was charged with perverting the course of justice.

Detective Inspector Tom Dahri, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said:

"From day one of this murder, McDonald has spun lie after lie and tarnished the name of the victim by calling her the vilest names in front of her family.

"McDonald completely fabricated that he was kept against his will at Naomi’s address and there was no evidence whatsoever that he had been raped by her. This was simply smoke and mirrors to portray himself as a victim. He is a cold and calculated killer who involved his girlfriend in attempting to clear up the mess that he had made. I am very pleased the jury saw through his tissue of lies.

"Naomi will be very much missed by all who knew her, but most especially by her family. The investigation team would like to thank our partners from the LGBT communities for their support and guidance during this investigation.

"Finally, the past few months have been extremely difficult for the Naomi’s family who have had to hear some very painful details about the murder. The loss of a loving child has had a devastating impact on the victim’s parents and siblings who are still struggling to come to terms with their loss. I hope that today’s conviction brings them a measure of comfort."