A teenager accused of strangling a pre-op transsexual in her bedroom after discovering she was still a man was today cleared of murder.
The Old Bailey jury was told Shanniel Hyatt, 18, garrotted 39-year-old Kellie Telesford with a brown furry scarf after taking her out for a date.
The pair had met just hours before after bumping in to each other in Norbury and agreed to go for a drink.
The beautician was found three days later lying on the floor of the bedroom of her Leander Road, Thornton Heath flat, still in her underwear with a white sheet pulled across her body.
Hyatt, from Thornton Heath, admitted being with her on the night of her death and stealing her mobile phone, freeview box and DVD player. He also used her Oyster card to catch the bus home but he denied murder.
The teenager had said he had left Miss Telesford “fit and well” and had not attacked her.
His barrister Joanna Greenberg QC told the court the victim had a habit of “taking men to her flat and engaging in intimacy” and was “quite good” at concealing her gender from them.
She suggested Miss Telesford could have died during a “kinky sex game” with another man after Hyatt had left the flat.
Hyatt was cleared of murder and an alternative of manslaughter by the jury after four hours of deliberations.
But he now faces being kicked out of the country as an illegal immigrant.
Judge Paul Worsley QC said: “Shanniel Hyatt you have been found not guilty of being involved in the killing of Kellie Telesford.
“You are discharged in respect of this matter although I understand you will remain in custody in respect of other matters.”
Jamaican illegal immigrant Hyatt will now remain in custody facing deportation.
Prosecutor Sally O'Neill QC said: 'When police broke in to the flat they saw her lying on the floor on the left side of the bed and a bay window, covered by a white throw.
When he was later interviewed by police it was put to him that he had reacted violently after discovering she was a pre-op transsexual during the date, but the teenager denied this.
Miss O’Neill told the court Hyatt said he discovered Kellie had been a man an hour before the police interview and had not known she was a biological male while he was with her.
“He said he ‘felt p*ssed about finding out’ and said he would have left straight away. He denied he made the discovery at the flat and became violent as a result.”