Northern Ireland man in dock over murder of mum left to die in burning car
A MAN from Northern Ireland was one of two maintenance men who raped a Vietnamese nail salon manager and left her to die in a burning car they torched, a court has heard.
Quyen Ngoc Nguyen (28) was led into a "trap" and held captive at Stephen Unwin's home in Shiney Row, Tyne and Wear, by him and co-accused William McFall (51), who is from Northern Ireland, a jury was told.
They held the seven-stone woman for more than four "terrifying" hours before she was incapacitated, carried out in a sheet and then dumped in her burning Audi A4, down an unlit lane leading to some allotments.
Firefighters were called in the early hours of August 15 when neighbours heard explosions and the mum-of-one's badly burned body was discovered face down on the back seat.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the men forced her to give them her PINs and they took two bank cards and withdrew a total of £1,000 before and after she was killed.
There was evidence she had been sexually abused, possibly with a gun or with a toy lightsabre, and raped.
McFall was living in Blackpool but frequently lived and worked with Unwin maintaining properties.
Shortly before their victim arrived at Unwin's home in Shiney Row, McFall texted his friend: "We raping the chink xxxx".
Unwin (40) replied: "Remove daft s*** like that lol".
Jamie Hill QC, prosecuting, told the jury the defendants, who deny murder and rape, blame each other.
He said: "We anticipate that they will seek to blame one another for causing Miss Nguyen's death.
"It is our case that they share joint responsibility for a murder that was motivated by a depraved sexual lust and financial greed."
Miss Nguyen, who was less than 5ft tall, had come to the UK in 2010 from Vietnam, the court heard.
She helped her sister run a nail salon in Gateshead but there was also a "secret" element of her life, renting properties for people without the correct immigration documents, and some of the addresses were used to cultivate cannabis.
Unwin had met her the previous April through his job working for a landlord, and appeared to have gained her trust, Mr Hill said.
It became apparent afterwards McFall and Unwin had been stealing drug crops to sell on, with the pair filming themselves a month before the murder at a cannabis farm, speaking in mock Oriental accents.
Mr Hill said that it was not known why Miss Nguyen, who was known as Anna, had visited Unwin on the evening of August 14.
CCTV from a neighbour showed her arriving and it seemed she did not plan to stay long, Mr Hill said.
As Unwin goes to the door, he can be seen gesturing to someone to keep out of sight, the court heard.
"We ask you to infer that they may have already set a trap," Mr Hill told the jury.
After the murder, the pair worked together and went for lunch at a Wetherspoon's pub while the murder investigation got underway.
The victim was identified from her dental records.
After police traced the car to her, a link was made to Unwin and both defendants were arrested soon after.
The case continues.