Triple killer Anthony Russell opts not to give evidence on rape charge

Anthony Russell
Anthony Russell denies raping Nicole McGregor in 2020 but admits her murder

A triple killer accused of raping his final victim during a six-day murder spree has exercised his right not to give evidence during a defence case lasting less than a minute.

Anthony Russell has pleaded guilty to the murders of Julie Williams and her son David Williams at separate flats in Coventry, and that of 31-year-old Nicole McGregor, whose body was found in woodland near Leamington Spa.

Prosecutors allege Miss McGregor, who was five months pregnant, was lured to the scene with the promise of drugs and raped by Russell, before he strangled her on October 26 2020.

On the third day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court, 39-year-old Russell, who denies rape, opted not to go into the witness box.

After his QC Tyrone Smith told the court he was not calling any evidence, trial judge Mr Justice Wall asked the defence barrister if he had advised Russell that “the jury may draw such inferences as appear proper” from his failure to give evidence.

Mr Smith replied: "My Lord he has been so advised and stands by his right not to give evidence."

Jurors have heard that Russell, of Riley Square in Coventry, killed Mr Williams by strangling him with a lanyard, leaving the body under his bed, where it was found by police five days later covered in more than 80 injuries.

The trial has been told the first killing is alleged to have been carried out to “avenge a perceived infidelity” involving Russell’s girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Mr Williams’s 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 and is alleged to have been killed to prevent her reporting Russell to the police over her son’s death.

Summing up the prosecution’s submissions relating to the rape charge in her closing speech on Wednesday, prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said: "It’s the Crown’s case that the rape and murder (of Miss McGregor) was in effect one course of conduct.

"The prosecution suggest that the motive for murdering Nicole was to stop her complaining of rape.

"You know that the defendant was a man on the run wanted by the police."

The Crown’s QC added: “And you may think, significantly in this case, every other violent crime committed by the defendant both before and after these events was for a reason – to achieve his own ends.

"He did not engage in explosions of random violence. There was always a reason for his conduct and we suggest this was no different.

"We suggest there is a compelling circumstantial case and that once you put all the evidence together you will come to the sure conclusion that the defendant did indeed rape Nicole."

In his speech on behalf of Russell, Mr Smith asserted that the evidence did not support the rape charge, which he described as "little more than a hunch".

Urging jurors to judge the case fairly despite the "horrific material" they had seen, the defence lawyer said: "We recognise it’s a difficult and stressful task you have been given."

The trial continues.