A man has been sentenced to life for killing his ex-girlfriend in her mum’s home off Streatham High Road, more than six years after being cleared of her murder.

Mario Celaire, 31, killed Cassandra McDermott, 19, on October 25, 2001, in her mother’s house in Granville Gardens, after an argument over her damaging a car he lent her.

He was found not guilty of her murder following a trial in 2002.

Yet after new evidence came to light he was reinvestigated by police, and pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Cassandra at the Old Bailey on May 22, six years and six months later.

Today he was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of eight years for her killing.

Cassandra died after she was assaulted by Celaire, who was living in a Croydon YMCA at the time, after she returned home at 11.30pm from using an internet café and picking up a takeaway in Streatham High Road.

Housesitting for her mum, she choked on the contents of her stomach as she lay unconscious after he punched her in the face.

She was discovered the next day by her sisters.

Celaire's conviction was the first in London under changes to the 'double jeopardy' law - where previously people could not be tried again for the same crime.

He was also given a life sentence, to serve the minimum of 23 years, for the attempted murder of another ex-girlfriend, Kara Hoyte,19, after pleading guilty on May 26.

The landmark conviction followed legislation changes enabling a person to be prosecuted again for serious offences like murder, when compelling new evidence emerges against them.

In his case he admitted Cassandra’s killing to Miss Hoyte, who he also subjected to a vicious attack with a hammer.

She told officers she had challenged the former footballer – now calling himself Mario McNish – about what happened to Cassandra.

Miss Hoyte, who was left partially paralysed for nine months, had found case papers relating to the murder trial in 2002 and wanted to know what happened.

He initially told her Cassandra had died after being sick from eating a Chinese meal, but he finally admitted he lost his temper and punched her in the face before leaving.

As a result, police launched a re-investigation of the original inquiry.