Anthony Russell: Killer who murdered three people in five days and raped pregnant victim jailed for life

Heroin addict sentenced for taking lives in Coventry and Leamington Spa

Triple murderer caught on CCTV walking with victim is arrested by police

A triple murderer who raped and killed his final victim, who was five months pregnant, has been jailed for life.

Anthony Russell, 39, had previously pleaded guilty to the murders of 58-year-old Julie Williams and her son David Williams, 32, at separate flats in Coventry on 25 and 21 October 2020 respectively.

Handing down the sentence on Friday, Mr Justice Wall told the killer: “I have no doubt that this is a case which falls fairly and squarely within the description of being exceptionally serious.

“You are a man prepared to use very significant violence on anyone. You are exceptionally dangerous to those who know you, and those who do not.”

The 39-year-old heroin addict had also admitted the murder of 31-year-old Nicole McGregor, who was found in woodland near Leamington Spa three days later.

After a retrial at Warwick Crown Court, Russell was unanimously found guilty on Thursday of raping her. The jury had deliberated for an hour and 23 minutes.

Russell assaulted Ms McGregor hours after she had shown him a picture of her baby scan, the court heard.

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.

The killer strangled Mr Williams with a lanyard and left the body under his bed where it was found by police five days later, covered in 87 injuries.

Afterwards, Russell claimed he had killed a man who “had had sex with his girlfriend”.

Nicole McGregor

Russell strangled Mr Williams’ mother in a “violent and sustained attack” in which she was hit five times on the head and neck, prosecutors said.

She had 113 separate injuries and is believed to have been killed because she found out Russell had murdered her son.

CCTV footage of Ms McGregor, who lived in a flat in Leamington, was played to the jury during the trial, showing her walking alongside Russell at 7.45pm on October 26.

During her opening speech, prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said of the footage: “This is the last time Nicole is seen alive.

Julie Williams

“Just three hours after meeting the defendant it appears that Nicole has agreed to walk with the defendant into Newbold Comyn.

“We suggest that the defendant lured Nicole on to the Comyn, not for sex but more likely for drugs.

“The defendant murdered Nicole McGregor shortly after that image was captured, just hours after they had met.”

After the murder, he pretended to help Ms McGregor’s partner look for her.

David Williams

The killer was eventually the subject of a national manhunt, and fled Leamington by robbing a 78-year-old man of his car.

Russell rang the pensioner’s doorbell asking for directions, and when the victim was distracted he hit him over the head from behind with a brick, leaving him with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.

The killer was arrested on 30 October 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 will not be eligible for release until he has served his whole term.

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