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Julia Rawson murder: Dudley ‘flat of horrors’ couple guilty

Julia Rawson

Police handout

A man obsessed with horror films has been convicted along with his boyfriend of murdering and dismembering a woman in their flat.

Nathan Maynard-Ellis, 30, took Julia Rawson home after meeting her in a pub in Dudley, West Midlands, in May 2019.

He and David Leesley, 25, then killed her and hid her body parts in undergrowth, the trial at Coventry Crown Court was told.

Maynard-Ellis was also found guilty of rape charges relating to another woman.

The four rapes, an attempted rape, and threats to kill were revealed when a woman came forward after his murder arrest.

Both men had admitted perverting the course of justice and concealing a body, but had denied murder.

Jurors heard Maynard-Ellis had a fascination with decapitation and horror films and had been addicted to fantasies about the “sexualised killing of women”.

His victim would have seen swords and spiders mounted on the walls of the Tipton flat, reptiles kept in tanks, and “gory face masks” of horror film characters, Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, told jurors at the start of the trial.

Ms Rawson “could not have known that she was about to enter a flat of horrors”, he said.

“But she must have realised this very soon after she went in.”

Nathan Maynard-Ellis and David Leesley

Police handout

Tracey Barrett, a neighbour of the two killers, told the BBC their flat “was the making of horror stories”, with Freddy Krueger figures and Chucky dolls.

Police said Maynard-Ellis had gone out the night of the murder with the aim of finding a victim.

“Unfortunately that victim was Julia”, Det Insp Jim Colclough, from West Midlands Police, said.

The inside of the killers' home featuring Chucky dolls

West Midlands Police

The killers' bookshelf

West Midlands Police

Ms Rawson, 42, was struck about the head. Her remains, including her severed head, hands and feet, were found on 12 and 29 June last year in two different locations, near a canal and on wasteland.

‘Terrible, terrible thing’

After identifying Maynard Ellis from CCTV video when he was with Ms Rawson at the pub, he was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and officers discovered a bloodstain underneath a new underlay in the living room of the couple’s flat.

Det Insp Colclough described the killing as “a terrible, terrible thing to have taken place”.

Ms Rawson, who was reported missing by friends, came from a close-knit family and was a talented musician and a fun-loving character, he said.

“Of course her family are absolutely devastated,” he said.

Bottle and Cork pub

PA Media

In a statement, Ms Rawson’s family said her loss was “felt as keenly today as when we heard she had first gone missing”.

“Her death has had a devastating impact on us, the mutilation of her body and the callous way in which her remains were scattered has revolted us,” they said.

The judge, Mr Justice Soole, told the jury: “It has been a very demanding case because of the subject matter.”

Maynard-Ellis and Leesley will be sentenced at a later date.

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