Coventry triple killer Anthony Russell found guilty of raping pregnant woman before her murder

A heroin user from Coventry who murdered three people in seven days has been found guilty of raping his final victim, who was five months pregnant.

Anthony Russell has been found guilty of raping Nicole McGregor - his third and final murder victim - by a jury at Warwick Crown Court.

The 39-year-old raped Miss McGregor, who was five months pregnant, at Newbold Comyn, Leamington, before strangling her to death.

Russell, of Riley Square, Coventry, lured Miss McGregor, who had shown him a scan of her baby, to Newbold Comyn with the promise of drugs on October 26 2020, the jury heard.

Russell had pleaded guilty to her murder in October 2020 but denied a charge of rape.

After a retrial at Warwick Crown Court, Russell was unanimously found guilty on Thursday of raping Ms McGregor, after just an hour and 23 minutes of deliberations by the jury.

The jury was earlier told Russell pleaded guilty to the murders of Julie Williams and her son David Williams at separate flats in Coventry - a few days before he killed Miss McGregor.

Watch as police swoop to arrest triple killer Anthony Russell as he sleeps in a car he had stolen

Russell had also told the expectant father, who was Ms McGregor’s partner: "I bet you can’t wait for it to be born," in the hours after she disappeared – knowing he had raped and killed her.

David, 32, was killed on October 21, 2020, and 58-year-old Julie was found dead four days later.

The trial has been taking place at Warwick Crown Court this week.

After around three days of evidence from a number of witnesses, including Christoper White - Nicole McGregor's then boyfriend - members of the jury returned a guilty verdict in just over an hour.

The jury were satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Russell forced himself on Miss McGregor, who was five months pregnant at the time, and raped her in "one course of conduct", according to Zoe Johnson QC, prosecuting.

Zoe Johnson QC, prosecuting, said Russell's motivation for killing Nicole McGregor was clear in this case.

In her summing up of the prosecution's case, Ms Johnson had said Russell was driven by an all-consuming bid "to stop her from complaining of rape."

"The defendant was a man on the run, wanted by police," Ms Johnson said, before adding: "The pattern of behaviour is an important consideration for you."

She adds: "Every other violent crime committed by the defendant was for a reason, that reason was to achieve his own ends. We suggest this incident was no different."

'His crimes were deliberate and calculated', Warwick Crown Court hears

Nicole McGregor Credit: West Midlands Police/PA

Ms Johnson continued: "His crimes were deliberate and calculated. We suggest this was no different.

"The compelling circumstantial evidence in this case will draw you to the view she was raped."

Meanwhile, Robert Cowley, defending said: "That there was no bruising to her inner thighs does not suggest she was not raped."

"Nevertheless, it's important evidence to put into the balance when you're considering whether the intercourse was consensual or an act of rape.

"There was no evidence of restraint. Again, I do not say that proves she was not raped.

"It's possible someone could be restrained through their clothing or through such fear.But, again, it's important evidence and, again, we invite you to put that into the balance.

"The only sufficient and proper verdict is one of not guilty."

David Williams and his mother Julie were both killed by Anthony Russell Credit: West Midlands Police

However, the jury very quickly dismissed that version of events to find the defendant guilty after less than 90 minutes of deliberation.

Miss McGregor's body was found by police search teams in an area of dense undergrowth near to the River Leam on October 29, 2020.

The 31-year-old's body was covered in scratches and bruises having been dragged through the woodland by Russell.

The killer was arrested on October 30 after police spotted the stolen Ford C-Max parked on a road near Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, and found Russell on the back seat.

While being booked into custody, he told officers: "I admit it, I did it."

Russell, of Riley Square, Coventry, will be sentenced on Friday.