'Evil' killers found guilty of murdering single mum after 'horror' four-hour ordeal

Two killers out on parole from life sentences have been convicted of the murder of a mum who was lured to a "trap" where she was raped and tortured before being burned alive.

Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 4:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 4:50 pm
William McFall, left, and Stephen Unwin have been convicted of murdering Quyen Ngoc Nguyen.

Stephen Unwin and William McFall, who were working as handymen, held Quyen Ngoc Nguyen "captive" at a house during a violent, horror, four-hour ordeal before the former cellmates shared a curry together when their victim lay dying.

The cruel duo then "disposed of" her body by fire at a dirt track.

William McFall, left, and Stephen Unwin have been convicted of murdering Quyen Ngoc Nguyen.

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The 28-year-old nail salon worker, who had business qualifications and hired out rental properties, had been lured to a house for a meeting about potential maintenance work but ended up being forced to hand over bank cards before being brutally killed.

Her badly burned remains, which could only be identified through dental records, were found face down on the back seat of her Audi A4, which had been engulfed in 30-foot flames during a fire that started when she was still "just" alive.

Stephen Unwin, 40, of St. Oswald's Terrace, Houghton, and William McFall, 51, of Waterloo Road, Blackpool, who met while serving time at HMP Swaleside in Kent for previous, separate murders, blamed each other for Miss Nguyen's death.

But after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court during which it was heard the motive for their crime was "violent, warped sexual fantasy and greed", jurors took just four hours to find both men guilty of murder.

The mum worked in a nail salon.

Unwin was also found guilty of Miss Nguyen’s rape. McFall was cleared of that charge.

The killers, who were constantly flanked by at least seven guards during the case, now face spending the rest of their lives behind bars.

She added: "I just want to know what kind of people in humankind can do anything like that.

Quyen Nguyen was only 28 when she was killed.

"It was very brutal to do anything like that to my sister."

Questions now remain as to how and why the men were able to maintain their sinister friendship while supposedly the subject of strict restrictions on their liberty.

The court heard the killers formed their deadly friendship while serving life sentences for two, separate, shocking murders and called each other "bro".

The scene where Miss Nguyen's body was found in Shiney Row.

When they were moved to separate prisons from Kent, they remained in touch as penpals until they were reunited at a jail in East Yorkshire, where they were prepared for release.

Despite being out on parole and the subject of strict life-licence restrictions, the killers got back in touch through Facebook, kept in constant contact and their mobile phone contents revealed a chilling collection of images that catalogued their continued interest in drugs, weapons and deviant sexual behaviour.

In a shocking message sent shortly before the murder of Miss Nguyen, McFall asked Unwin: "We raping the *****?"

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Unwin's mobile contained records of his conversations with call-girls and his bid to buy a gun.

McFall, who had pictures of himself with weapons on his phone, including a gun that was later found to contain heavy traces of Miss Nguyen's DNA, took a happy selfie with his killing accomplice after the murder - but claimed his "smile" was down to the fact his false teeth were falling out.

A selfie taken by the pair on night of the killing.

The killers concocted a story when they were arrested that removed them completely from an involvement in the killing and said Miss Nguyen had been alive when she left the house that night after just a brief visit.

But as the proceedings against them progressed and the evidence mounted, the men blamed each other for carrying out the killing.

During the trial, each man, who gave evidence flanked by prison guards with extra security and police outside the court doors, claimed to be in fear of the other and branded each other manipulative and dangerous liars.

McFall had regular outbursts from the dock and claimed his trial was "unfair".

Each of them mouthed "liar" to the other during the case and frequently shook their head while the other one was talking.

Prosecutors claimed, despite the regular displays of ill-feeling, that the men remained firm friends who hoped the defence cases would cause confusion and uncertainly over who was truly to blame and that both would be cleared.

Both men claimed to have changed, for the better, since their last convictions for murder.

The court heard McFall, who was claiming benefits, was employed as a handman in Unwin's property maintenance business.

Previous convictions: Unwin

Prosecutor Jamie Hill QC has told jurors about the "bad character" of the two men, which includes them, separately, setting fires and murdering people.

The court heard on Christmas Day 1998 Unwin broke into the Houghton home of 73-year-old cancer suffer Jack Greenwell, who was in bed, and hit him with a camera then stabbed him in the chest.

Unwin used a wheelie bin to take the victim's television to his own home then went back to the scene and started three fires, which meant the deceased had to be identified through dental records.

Unwin was sentenced to life imprisonment when he pleaded guilty to murder in 1999 by a judge who branded him "wicked" and said he had a "degraded view of life".

Unwin was released on licence in 2012.

In the years before the murder, Unwin had also been convicted of theft and arson after he stole a radio from a Volvo HGV in 1991 and then set fire to the vehicle.

In February 1995 he had broken into the home of a 72-year-old man, who was in bed, stole his benefit books then started five fires.

The victim was badly effected by smoke but survived the ordeal.

Unwin, who tried to cash the man's benefit book the next day, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to whether life is endangered and attempting to obtain property by deception when the case got to court.

Previous convictions: McFall

The court heard McFall was convicted of murder at Belfast Crown Court in April 1997.

In May 1996 he had broken into the home of 86-year-old Martha Gilmore, who had mobility problems, at Station Road, Greencastle.

The victim had been disturbed by the raider and fell to the ground, after being struck in the face, where she was repeatedly hit with a hammer.

McFall's palm print was found in blood at the scene and he admitted being present but initially claimed his brother and brother in law had been with him and must have been responsible for the killing as he had ran off when the victim got disturbed.

He later told a prison inmate where he had hidden the murder weapon, which was in a graveyard, and eventually confessed to the killing, which he blamed on "alcohol, stress and panic".

McFall was initially jailed in Northern Ireland but then transferred to a mainland prison over concerns he was being bulled over the vile nature of his crime.

He was released on licence in 2010.

During his evidence last week he said was he was "truly sorry" for the killing of Ms Gilmore.

In the years before he committed the murder of Miss Gilmore, McFall had been convicted of robbery, assault and aggravated burglary while carrying a firearm in 1987.

In 1989 he was convicted of arson and burglary.

Between 1989 and 1991 he was three times convicted of possessing offensive weapons.

And between 1991 and 1992 he was twice convicted of assaults.

Victim 'lured' to her death

Mr Hill said some of the properties Miss Nguyen was involved in had been used as cannabis farms and it is claimed the men were involved in stealing crops.

The court heard it is unclear how exactly the single mum, who was "tiny" in stature, was lured to Unwin's house on August 14, 2017. But prosecutors say she walked into a "trap" and was carried out, dying, in a plastic sheet four hours later.

Mr Hill said Unwin greeted the victim at the back door, while gesturing for McFall to stay out of sight until she was inside and alone with them.

Mr Hill added: "At various stages McFall and Unwin were alone with Miss Nguyen but for the majority of the time they were both in the house with her.

"The prosecution says that she was sexually abused and raped and also threatened into providing her PIN numbers for her two bank cards.

"It may be that they were also after the whereabouts of other cannabis growers.

"When the defendants had finished abusing her, and gained access to her money, they decided to dispose of her, determined to destroy the evidence of what they had been doing."

Described by her sister and friends as kind, honest and good, Miss Quyen moved to England with hopes of having a better life.

Her sister continued: "I thought that a life working in any country like the UK would be wonderful for anyone."

Mr Justice Morris will sentence the pair at a later date.

Mr Justice Morris said a "whole life" sentence will be considered in the case of Stephen Unwin and William McFall when they learn their fate at a laterdate.

McFall shouted that the jury had been "brainwashed" by the fact he had killed before and that he had not had a fair trial.He said: "That's why I have got found guilty, no other reason. You have found an innocent man guilty."

William McFall, left, and Stephen Unwin have been convicted of murdering Quyen Ngoc Nguyen.
The mum worked in a nail salon.
Quyen Nguyen was only 28 when she was killed.
The scene where Miss Nguyen's body was found in Shiney Row.
A selfie taken by the pair on night of the killing.