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Triple murderer denies raping pregnant victim who ‘proudly’ showed him her scan

Anthony Russell has admitted three murders but is on trial after denying he raped one of the victims before killing her.

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General view of the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa (Andrew Matthews/PA)

General view of the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa (Andrew Matthews/PA)

General view of the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A heroin user who jurors have been told admitted murdering three people during a “campaign of crime” has gone on trial accused of raping one of the victims, who was five months pregnant at the time.

Anthony Russell previously pleaded guilty to the murders of 58-year-old Julie Williams and her son, David Williams, 32, at separate flats in Coventry on October 25 and October 21 2020 respectively.

He had also pleaded guilty to later murdering 31-year-old Nicole McGregor, who was found in woodland near Leamington Spa on October 29 the same year.

But Russell, 39, went on trial at Warwick Crown Court on Monday, accused of raping Ms McGregor before killing her, just hours after she proudly showed him a picture of her baby scan.

Russell, of Riley Square in Coventry, had earlier killed Mr Williams, strangling him with a lanyard, and leaving the body under his bed where it was only found by police five days later, covered in 87 injuries.

Meanwhile, Mr Williams’ mother was found face down in her flat, having died from a bleed on the brain.

Russell had strangled and beaten her in a “violent and sustained attack” in which she was hit five times over the head and neck, prosecutors said.

She had 113 separate injuries.

Zoe Johnson QC, opening the case, told jurors that between October 21 and his arrest on October 30, Russell had “embarked on a campaign of crime” then lied in “callous and calculating fashion” to cover up his offences.

“He murdered three people, raped one of his victims before killing her, seriously attacked another, leaving him with life-changing injuries, and robbed another two people,” she added.

She said: “The defendant has pleaded guilty to the murders of David Williams, Julie Williams and Nicole McGregor, who was five months pregnant at the time.

“He has also pleaded guilty to attacking and robbing Roy Lavens and to robbing Brian Warr and Nicole Crisp.

“The defendant does not admit raping Nicole McGregor, just moments before he strangled her.”

Mr Williams was murdered on October 21 after going to Russell’s flat, where they were “probably taking drugs together”, said the Crown’s QC.

Russell afterwards “confessed” to various people he had killed a man in the days following, alleging it was because he had believed the victim “had sex with his girlfriend”.

Julie Williams was murdered in her flat on the night of October 24/25.

It is likely Russell “duped” his way into her home, by claiming to know something about the then disappearance of her son, Ms Johnson said.

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A general view of a custody van outside Warwickshire Justice Centre (Joe Giddens/PA)

A general view of a custody van outside Warwickshire Justice Centre (Joe Giddens/PA)

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A general view of a custody van outside Warwickshire Justice Centre (Joe Giddens/PA)

In between the killings, he robbed Mr Warr of £30.

Fleeing Coventry, Russell then robbed 71-year-old Ms Crisp of £200 in nearby Kenilworth, Warwickshire, before arriving in Leamington Spa on October 26.

In the river-side town, Russell approached a couple; Christopher White and Nicole McGregor, who begged in Leamington.

The three made an agreement to buy drugs, later smoking them together.

Ms Johnson said: “Nicole told the defendant she and Christopher were expecting a baby.

“She proudly showed the defendant a pregnancy scan that she had on her telephone.

“The defendant congratulated them both.”

Having left Mr White to go to their usual begging spots, CCTV later showed Russell “walking alongside” Ms McGregor.

Russell is said to have “lured” Ms McGregor to nearly Newbold Comyn park “not for sex, but more likely for drugs” before allegedly raping and then killing her.

Russell, having killed Ms McGregor, slept rough that night but then went and found Mr White the next morning and told him a series of “elaborate” lies about the woman’s whereabouts.

It was on October 28, when a friend showed Mr White an image of a man wanted for the Williams killings in Coventry, he recognised it as Russell and “in shock” went to the police.

A search team later found her body down a steep path, covered in scratches, “in dense underground”, likely after being dragged there in a bid to conceal the crime.

She died as a result of neck compression caused by ligature strangulation, with the post-mortem discovering she had been carrying a “fully-formed female foetus”.

Ms Johnson said: “The prosecution suggest the state of Nicole’s body gives the lie to the defendant’s claim that Nicole McGregor consented to sex.”

Russell then attacked and robbed Mr Lavens, carjacking his Ford C-Max in an escape bid.

On October 30, police spotted the red Ford parked in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, about 50 miles from Leamington.

Russell was found “lying across the back seats” of the car and arrested at 4.17am.

He denies rape and the trial continues.

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