Serial killer fan ‘dismembered woman’s body in flat of horrors containing gory masks’

A murder victim’s body was cut into 11 pieces after she was lured to her killers’ “flat of horrors” which contained stuffed creatures, snakes and “gory” home-made masks, a court has heard.

Julia Rawson died at the home of horror film fan Nathan Maynard-Ellis and his boyfriend, David Leesley, jurors were told.

Prosecutors allege 25-year-old Maynard-Ellis, who was said to have been obsessed with serial killers, had met Ms Rawson, 42, by chance in a pub in Dudley and took her in a taxi to his flat in Tipton, West Midlands.

The jury at Coventry Crown Court was told that, after Ms Rawson was killed, Maynard-Ellis and 30-year-old Leesley strolled along a nearby canal to hide body parts in undergrowth.

Both men deny murder, while Maynard-Ellis also denies four counts of rape relating to historical allegations made by a woman after his arrest.

Opening the prosecution’s case on Wednesday, Crown counsel Karim Khalil QC urged jurors to act dispassionately given the “especially gruesome” allegations.

He told the court: “The prosecution case can be stated quite shortly – for many years Maynard-Elllis has harboured dark thoughts that have focused mainly on the sexual assault of women and their violent killing.

“He has shown a particular interest in certain themes involving serial killers and the dismemberment of bodies.

“His boyfriend, David Leesley, knew of these interests, since their flat was full of printed materials, DVDs and videos about serial killers and the violent sexual abuse of women.”

Maynard-Ellis, described in court as artistic, also made reproduction masks of characters from horror films, many of which were found in the flat in Mission Drive, Dudley Port.

Addressing what the Crown alleges to have happened on the weekend of May 11-12 last year, Mr Khalil added: “Julia Rawson was killed in their flat – but that wasn’t enough for these two men.

“Her body was then dismembered. Each body part was put into black plastic bags.

“The two men then left the flat, carrying those body parts in plastic bags, and they walked casually along the nearby canal, where they found places in the undergrowth to hide the bags.”

Mr Khalil told the jury Maynard-Ellis now accepts he was involved in the death but denies it was murder, while Leesley denies playing any part in the death and “blames his boyfriend”.

Ms Rawson, the jury heard, was a lesbian but according to a former partner was sometimes “flirtatious” with men while drunk.

She had spent the evening with an ex-girlfriend but caught the wrong bus home and ended up in the Bottle And Cork in New Mill Street, Dudley, where she allegedly met Maynard-Ellis.

Mr Khalil continued: “At about 2am in the morning, Julia and Nathan Maynard-Ellis got into a taxi.

“Before they arrived at the flat it’s unlikely that Julia would have known that Nathan Maynard-Ellis was a homosexual. She would also not have known that his boyfriend was in the flat.

“Furthermore, Julia could not have known that she was about to enter a ‘flat of horrors’ – but she must have realised this very soon after she went in.

“One can only imagine the sense of panic that it might have created in her.

“By way of description, there were numerous stuffed creatures on the walls, snakes and reptiles in tanks, and many gory face-masks of characters from horror films that Nathan Maynard-Ellis used to make.”

Among items in the lounge, Mr Khalil said, was a model of somebody holding a knife, and swords and spiders were mounted on a wall.

After showing jurors photographs of the lounge, the prosecutor added: “That gives you a sense of what confronted Julia Rawson when she went up into that flat.

“More disturbing perhaps, and entirely hidden from her view, was the mental make-up of the man with whom she had just arrived.

“For years, he had been addicted to thoughts of the violent sexualised killing of women.”

As well as having been seen by psychiatrists about his sexually violent fantasies, Maynard-Ellis had collected newspaper clippings and books about serial killers, and horror films featuring decapitation and necrophilia, the jury heard.

The trial continues.