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Woman ‘dismembered by serial killer fan at flat of horrors’, murder trial told

Written by on 7 October 2020

A woman was dismembered into 11 pieces after she was lured to a “flat of horrors” by her killers, a court has been told.

Julia Rawson died at the home of horror film fan Nathan Maynard-Ellis who was obsessed with serial killers, and his boyfriend, David Leesley, jurors at Coventry Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors allege that 30-year-old Maynard-Ellis had met 42-year-old Ms Rawson by chance in a pub in Dudley and took her in a taxi to his flat in Mission Drive, Tipton, West Midlands, which contained stuffed creatures, snakes and reptiles in tanks and “gory” homemade masks.

After Ms Rawson was killed, Maynard-Ellis and 25-year-old Leesley, who both deny murder, strolled along a nearby canal to hide body parts in undergrowth, the court heard.

Opening the prosecution’s case on Wednesday, Karim Khalil QC told the court “for many years Maynard-Elllis has harboured dark thoughts that have focused mainly on the sexual assault of women and their violent killing”.

“He has shown a particular interest in certain themes involving serial killers and the dismemberment of bodies,” he said.

“His boyfriend, David Leesley, knew of these interests, since their flat was full of printed materials, DVDs and videos about serial killers and the violent sexual abuse of women.”

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The prosecutor alleged that on the weekend of 11-12 May last year, the pair killed Ms Rawson in their flat – “but that wasn’t enough for these two men”.

“Her body was then dismembered. Each body part was put into black plastic bags,” Mr Khalil told the court.

“The two men then left the flat, carrying those body parts in plastic bags, and they walked casually along the nearby canal, where they found places in the undergrowth to hide the bags.”

The court heard that Ms Rawson’s body parts, including her severed head, hands and feet, were found on 12 and 29 June, 2019 at two different locations.

Mr Khalil told the jury that Maynard-Ellis now accepts that he was involved in the death but denies it was murder, while Leesley denies playing any part in the death and “blames his boyfriend”.

Image:
A view of a stretch of canal near Mission Drive in Tipton, West Midlands, where the accused are alleged to have hidden parts of the victim’s body

The jury heard Ms Rawson was a lesbian, but, according to a former partner, was sometimes “flirtatious” with men while drunk.

She had spent the evening with an ex-girlfriend, but caught the wrong bus home and ended up in the Bottle And Cork in New Mill Street, Dudley, where she allegedly met Maynard-Ellis.

Mr Khalil said Ms Rawson could not have known when she got into a taxi with Maynard-Ellis “that she was about to enter a ‘flat of horrors’.”

Among items in the lounge, Mr Khalil said, was a model of somebody holding a knife, and swords and spiders were mounted on a wall.

After showing jurors photographs of the lounge, the prosecutor added: “That gives you a sense of what confronted Julia Rawson when she went up into that flat.

“More disturbing perhaps, and entirely hidden from her view, was the mental make-up of the man with whom she had just arrived.

“For years, he had been addicted to thoughts of the violent sexualised killing of women.”

As well as having been seen by psychiatrists about his sexually violent fantasies, Maynard-Ellis had collected newspaper clippings and books about serial killers, and horror films featuring decapitation and necrophilia, the jury heard.

After the killing, the prosecution alleges both defendants acted together by burning clothing, disposing of a bloodstained sofa, and hiding rugs in a lock-up storage unit.

“Everything they did thereafter showed them to be acting together and doing everything necessary, together, to hide their horrific acts from being discovered,” Mr Khalil told the court.

The trial continues.