Two men accused of raping and killing young mum have murdered before, jury hears

Two maintenance workers accused of raping a young mum then setting her and her car on fire both have previous murder convictions, jurors were told today.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 11:28 am
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 12:05 pm
Victim Quyen Ngoc Nguyen.

Stephen Unwin and William McFall are said to have held Quyen Ngoc Nguyen 'captive' during a horror four-hour ordeal at a house where she was 'raped and incapacitated', before she and her Audi A4 were dumped and set on fire on a dirt track near Sunderland, last August.

The 28-year-old nail salon worker's badly burned body was found face down on the back seat when firefighters extinguished the blaze, which was started when Miss Nguyen may have been still alive.

Police cordon off the area where Quyen Ngoc Nguyen's body was found in her burnt-out car.

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Stephen Unwin, 40, of St Oswald's Terrace, Houghton, and William McFall, 51, of Waterloo Road, Blackpool, are on trial at Newcastle Crown Court accused of her rape and murder, which they both deny.

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 home of a 73-year-old man, who was in bed, in Houghton, and hit him with a camera, then stabbed him in the chest.

He 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 by dental records.

Police cordon off the area where Quyen Ngoc Nguyen's body was found in her burnt-out car.

Unwin was sentenced to life imprisonment when he pleaded guilty to murder in 1999, and released on licence in 2012.

In the years before the murder, Unwin had 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 affected 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.

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 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 released on licence in 2010.

In the years before he committed the murder, 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.

Prosecutors claim the motive for Miss Nguyen's killing was a combination of "violent, warped sexual fantasy and greed".

The court heard McFall took a 'smiling selfie' of himself and his accomplice in another car after the killing.

And in the days before the murder the men had exchanged a series of shocking, sexually graphic texts.

McFall had also taken a 'selfie' posing with a gas gun on the day of the killing, which was later found and contained heavy traces of the victim's DNA.

Prosecutor Jamie Hill Qc told jurors the victim, who had met the men through her involvement in rental properties, had been held captive at Unwin's house, where she was raped and 'incapacitated'.

Mr Hill said a reason for the murder was "depraved sexual lust and financial gain".

Mr Hill said some of the properties she 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 why the single mum, who was 'tiny' in stature, visited Unwin's house on August 14, but prosecutors say she walked into a 'trap' and was carried out, dying, in a plastic sheet by one of her killers.

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 court heard DNA, CCTV and strands of circumstantial evidence can shed some light onto the 'terrifying' ordeal the victim endured.

Mr Hill added: "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."

The court heard the victim's DNA was found inside the Marvel lounge pants Unwin had been wearing and there were traces in McFall's shorts.

Both men deny murder and rape.