The sister of a murdered transgender man has spoken of her regret that she never called him on the day he died – despite him telling her he never wanted to speak to her again.
Amina Hersi, from north London, was left heartbroken when her brother Hersi Mohammed Hersi, 36, known as Naomi, was brutally killed by troubled university dropout Jesse McDonald, 25, of West Sussex, in March 2018.
McDonald did well in school and played tennis at county level but turned to dealing drugs and trading in Bitcoins after dropping out of the London School of Economics (LSE).
After a three-day sexual encounter, McDonald drugged and then stabbed Ms Hersi to death with a knife and a broken bottle at a hotel near Heathrow Airport, west London, where he was living at the time.
Hersi Mohammed Hersi, 36, known as Naomi, was brutally killed by university dropout Jesse McDonald, 25, of West Sussex, in March 2018
Ms Hersi, pictured as Hersi, found it really hard to keep down a job, and at times she is sure her brother encountered blatant discrimination for his gender dysmorphia
Jess McDonald, pictured left, spun a web of lies about how Ms Hersi died and recruited his 18-year-old girlfriend, Polish-born Natalia Darkowska, right, to help clean up
He then spun a web of lies as he recruited his 18-year-old girlfriend, Polish-born Natalia Darkowska, to help him clean up the evidence. Ms Hersi was eventually found by police half-naked, partly covered by a rug on the floor of the small bathroom in a pool of blood.
Ms Hersi was one of 11 children in his Somalian Muslim family and his sister Amina said she wishes she could have been there for him in his final moments.
Speaking on new New 5Star documentary Body in the Bathroom: The Murder of Naomi Hersi, she sobbed: ‘No one deserves to die like that.’
Amina said she never knew her brother as Naomi, as that was a side to him she never saw.
Ms Hersi, pictured as Naomi, was one of 11 children in his Somalian Muslim family and his sister Amina said she wishes she could have been there for him
‘He never asked me to call him Naomi and he never asked me to call him she,’ she said.
‘He was very honest with me and said he would dress up sometimes and felt feminine, and that it was fun for a few hours.
‘I am his little sister and maybe there are some things he didn’t want to tell me.’
She told how Ms Hersi found it really hard to keep down a job, and at times she is sure her brother encountered blatant discrimination.
‘I think it really got him down,’ she said.
‘Drugs was another way for him to escape. I think that’s what led him down a dark spiral. He started to contact us less and less and he seemed more angry.
During his police interview, McDonald insisted he acted in self defence, but his story didn’t ring true
‘The last time he messaged me he pretty much told me to never talk to him again.
‘The day that he probably died, I was going to call him; I was hovering over his number and I didn’t press it. I regret that.’
Former grade A student McDonald, then 25, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was found guilty of the ‘cold and calculating’ murder of transgender Naomi Hersi at the Old Bailey in October 2018 after a sex and drugs binge.
Amina told how her brother had cuts all over his face following the brutal assault which resulted in his death
From the hotel annex where he was living, McDonald contacted Naomi through dating website Fabswingers.com, explaining he wanted ‘edgy, risky sex’ – despite having just returned from a five hour sex session with his girlfriend.
He drove his BMW to the victim’s home in Mill Hill, north-west London, where he stayed for three days before they both went back to the small hotel room in Hounslow, from which it is believed her was operating a sophisticated drugs business.
But at some stage an argument flared and McDonald smashed a beer bottle over Ms Hersi’s head and stabbed her with a shard of glass.
He did the same with a second bottle before turning on her with the carving knife he used to chop up the hashish he sold.
Throughout the period, McDonald is said to have ignored his girlfriend’s increasingly frequent attempts to get in touch with him.
But on Friday 16 March he sent her a message which said: ‘Baby I been a f****** idiot.’
Another read: ‘I love u so much. Not cheated x. Got addicted to a nasty drug I had never met before.’
At some stage during their time together, an argument flared and McDonald smashed a beer bottle over Ms Hersi’s head and stabbed her with a shard of glass.
He then told her he had ‘got a big drug dealer’ lying across his floor, adding ‘won’t wake up… massive black guy’. She arrived at the scene to help him clear up the room, which had bloodstains all over the walls and floor.
Speaking about her brother’s injuries, Amina recalled: ‘He had cuts all over his face, in straight lines down his cheeks, across his forehead, and I remember thinking, “Who has time to be that cruel?”
‘We heard that he may have already been on the floor when he was stabbed continuously, and there were marks on the floor that showed he was attacked while lying there.
McDonald maintained that the violence came from Ms Hersi and that his actions were in retaliation
‘The amount of blood at the crime scene, on the walls, on the door, on the floor, everywhere. You just wonder how much horror happened in that room.’
She added: ‘There was something about the way [McDonald] attacked Hersi which made it feel personal. Which was odd because they’d only known each other for four days. How personal can it get?’
According to a police officer working on the case, Ms Hersi ‘didn’t stand a chance’.
Twelve hours after the attack, the manager of the hotel where McDonald had been staying called police to alert them he had admitted having a fight with someone, adding: ‘He’s clearly told me he killed him.’
Officers rush to the scene; in the documentary, a bodycam worn by one of the police officers shows them entering the flat and finding Ms Hersi’s body in the bathroom, with ‘six or seven stab wounds’ and a knife in the shower cubicle.
McDonald and his girlfriend are spotted on CCTV fleeing the hotel in the middle of the night, and police eventually catch them by tracking Darkowska’s phone.
As he is arrested, McDonald defends his actions, exclaining: ‘I have just fought a six or seven hour fight for my life… I promise you, that fight, I couldn’t… one of us was going to come out… I acted 100 per cent in self-defence,’ before branding it a ‘complete screw-up’.
During his interview tapes, McDonald insists that he acted in self defence, claiming the violence came from Ms Hersi.
At court, in front of Ms Hersi’s friends and family, both defendants plead not guilty.
Emotional Amina recounted: ‘We had to sit and watch Jesse, and Natalia in the dock every day. Jesse spent most of the time smirking, and he would canoodle with Natalia. He would play with her hair, he would whisper in her ear, they would be cuddling up.
‘We had to listen to the defence trash my brother, trash his memory, and you couldn’t say a thing back.’
A jury deliberated for 17 hours to find them guilty of the charges. Afterwards, McDonald broke down in tears in the dock and bent over with his head in his hands before hugging his girlfriend, saying, ‘I’m sorry’.
Despite justice being served, Naomi’s loved ones continue to mourn her loss.
Amina said: ‘We’ll never get to see my brother again, we’ll never get to speak to him or hug him. That’s the part that’s really hard to come to terms with.’
Body in the Bathroom: The Murder of Naomi Hersi airs on 5Star on Monday 27 May.