Man murdered transgender woman after three-day sex and drugs binge, court told

Natalia Darkowska, 18, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where she denies perverting the course of justice in connection with the death of Naomi Hersi, a transgender woman who was found dead in a hotel room near Heathrow Airport. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Natalia Darkowska, 18, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where she denies perverting the course of justice in connection with the death of Naomi Hersi, a transgender woman who was found dead in a hotel room near Heathrow Airport. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

A university dropout murdered a transgender woman after a three-day sex and drugs binge before recruiting his teenage girlfriend to help clean up the crime, a court has heard.

Jesse McDonald, 25, is accused of drugging Naomi Hersi, 36, before stabbing her to death with a knife and a broken bottle in the hotel room where he stayed near Heathrow Airport.

The Old Bailey heard that "bright and articulate" McDonald had met his victim when he went "looking for excitement" online and found her profile on a website called "Fabswingers.com".

After the killing, he got bags and cleaning products before contacting his girlfriend, Natalia Darkowska, 18, who joined him in the attempted clean-up, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said McDonald had planned to dispose of the body, but the victim was found half-naked, partly covered by a rug on the small bathroom floor.

"Each was thinking only of themselves and each other - without a care for the deceased, whom they believed was unlikely, because of her lifestyle, to be missed," he said.

McDonald denies murder between March 14 and 18, while he and Darkowska both deny perverting the course of justice between March 15 and 18.

Mr Heywood said McDonald will claim self-defence, telling jurors: "You will not have to decide whether there was a killing or who did it.

"The first defendant, Jesse McDonald, accepts he inflicted all of the many injuries that caused the terrible, violent death she suffered."

The court heard that Ms Hersi, whose legal name was Hersi Mohamed Hersi, was an openly transgender woman, although to her family, who are originally from Somalia, she remained a much-loved son.

McDonald, who grew up in West Sussex, did well in school, but turned to dealing drugs after dropping out of the London School of Economics (LSE), it was said.

He met Ms Hersi, who lived in Mill Hill, north-west London, online before spending four days with her, jurors were told.

Mr Heywood said McDonald was "looking for a sexual encounter" and knew early on that Ms Hersi was a transgender woman, who had not undergone surgery.

"He was looking for something edgy, a little bit risky and possibly prepared to use drugs in the course of the experience," he added.

"They passed time together, took drugs and had sex at her address, to which she had invited him," said the prosecutor.

"After three days of that, he took her back to her address. After a time, he drugged her, fought with her and eventually killed her, stabbing and cutting her multiple times with a broken bottle and knife and perhaps other things in order to achieve her death.

"When it was done, when she was dead, he tried to clean it up and avoid detection."

The court heard that McDonald then contacted others, including his then 17-year-old girlfriend Darkowska, whom he had also met online.

She was living with her family, from Poland, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, at the time.

"His girlfriend, the second defendant, travelled to him and joined in with him at this stage of the attempted clean-up," said Mr Heywood.

"Once she understood what had to be done, she went to buy the necessary things and tried to help and support him through it."

The court heard McDonald contacted Ms Hersi online just 45 minutes after arriving home to the Heathrow Palace Hotel in Hounslow, after returning from visiting his girlfriend on the night of March 12.

He drove his BMW to her home, where he arrived after midnight, and stayed voluntarily for three days, the prosecutor said.

On Thursday March 15 he and Ms Hersi went to his small hotel room.

Throughout the period, McDonald is said to have ignored his girlfriend's increasingly frequent attempts to get in touch with him.

But on Friday March 16 he sent her a message which said: "Baby I been a f***ing idiot."

Another read: "I love u so much. Not cheated x. Got addicted to a nasty drug I had never met before."

He then told her he had "got a big drug dealer" lying across his floor, adding "won't wake up... massive black guy".

The trial continues.