A MAN found guilty of murdering three people including a pregnant Leamington woman, who he also raped, has been told he will never be released from prison after being given a whole life-term at Warwick Crown Court.
Anthony Russell killed three times in the space of seven days in October 2020 – including 31 year-old Nicole McGregor, who the court heard was raped and beaten to death by 39 year-old Russell in woodland at Newbold Comyn.
Russell refused to attend court for sentencing today.
Mr Justice Wall, passing sentence in Russell’s abscence, described him as “exceptionally dangerous and manipulative” adding he would remain in custody for life and would never be eligible to apply for parole.
Sati Ruck, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Russell’s decision to deny raping Ms McGregor, despite the strength of the evidence against him, had forced her family to “relive the tragic circumstances around her death at trial”.
Russell’s reign of terror started on October 23 when Julie Williams phoned police to report her 31-year-old son David Williams had not been seen for two days.
Officers forced their way into her house and found the 58-year-old dead on the living room floor, having been killed in a violent attack by Russell earlier in the day.
Russell fled Coventry on October 26 after the discovery of Julie’s body, with money and a mobile phone he had robbed from a 78-year-old man the day before.
Later that day officers raided Russell’s home in Riley Square, Coventry, after a tip-off that he had confessed to killing of both Julie and David. There they found David’s body hidden under a bed. He had also suffered multiple injuries.
The hunt was launched for Russell who had travelled to Kenilworth by bus where he dragged a 71-year-old woman of along the ground before robbing her of £200.
Russell then went on to Leamington by bus where he struck up friendships with drug users.
Nicole became his third victim. Her body was found on Newbold Comyn a few days later.
Nicole was 18 weeks pregnant when she was killed by Russell, only hours after he had arrived in the town.
Russell was seen leaving Leamington on foot on October 28, where at 2pm he targeted a 75-year-old man. After asking him for directions, Russell followed him into his home and attacked him before driving off in his car.
The hunt was extended nationwide and Russell was finally tracked down in Staffordshire in the early hours of October 20. He was sleeping in the car he had stolen two days earlier.
An investigation established Russell had killed David first, and then his mother because she knew what had happened and would tell the police.
When officers later attempted to question him, he refused to even leave his cell where he remained covering his head with a blanket.
Russell later admitted the three murders, three robberies and wounding of the car-jacking victim. He denied the rape but was found guilty.
Det Supt Shaun Edwards, who heads West Midlands Police homicide team, said: “This was a violent series of killings which happened over a period of just seven days, but which have left two families devastated for the rest of their lives.
“We believe that David was killed due to Russell’s mistaken belief that he was in a relationship with his girlfriend.
“When Russell went to speak to Julie about her son’s disappearance, we suspect that he confessed to David’s killing. He then killed Julie to stop her from speaking to the police.
“There’s no known link between Russell and Nicole, and it appears to be pure chance that he has encountered her.
“The huge effort that went into tracking Russell down, including national media appeals, can’t be overstated. We worked around the clock to bring him to justice, and I’m glad that that is what has happened today.
“The thoughts of everyone involved in this investigation are with the families of David and Julie, and Nicole, as well as the victims he robbed.”