Horror film fan and his boyfriend jailed for life over stranger's murder

·4-min read

A man obsessed with serial killers has been jailed, along with his boyfriend, for murdering and dismembering a stranger at their "flat of horrors" which contained weapons, snakes and masks.

Former TV and film student Nathan Maynard-Ellis, 30, decided to kill Julia Rawson, 42, to "re-enact" horror movies found in his apartment, a month-long trial at Coventry Crown Court heard.

The horror film fan had lured Ms Rawson to his home in Dudley Port, Tipton, in the West Midlands, and killed her with the help of David Leesley, which was said to be the culmination of "years of pent-up fantasy and desire".

Forensic tests on the victim's remains, which were hidden on nearby wasteland, showed that her body had been cut into 11 pieces, likely with the use of a handheld wood saw.

In sentencing at Warwick Crown Court on Monday, Mr Justice Soole ordered Maynard-Ellis to serve at least 30 years behind bars, with Leesley receiving a minimum term of 19 years.

Mr Soole said he was sure that both Leesley and Maynard-Ellis has repeatedly struck Ms Rawson on the head with weapons, before carrying out a "cool, calm and thorough" cover-up.

Maynard-Ellis played the "lead role" in the killing, according to the judge, having made the decision to kill Ms Rawson before she even arrived at his flat in a taxi.

The judge told Leesley: "I am sure that you were in thrall to Maynard-Ellis and would do, and that night did, his bidding.

"I accept that Maynard-Ellis was playing a leading role through all of this but at all times you were giving him your unquestioning support."

Mr Soole added that Maynard-Ellis had shown a degree of pre-meditation and described the defendant's decision to dismember and hide the victim's body as a "terrible and comprehensive act of defilement and indignity".

He added: "Only you two know just what happened in the flat but neither has told the truth."

Maynard-Ellis was given concurrent sentences for the rape of a woman who contacted the police following his arrest to make historical allegations.

After his conviction, Maynard-Ellis contracted COVID-19 and had been in and out of hospital four times to treat blood clots on his lungs, the court heard.

Maynard-Ellis and Leesley were both aware of "ornamental" weaponry and axes, as well as balaclavas and a folding dagger at the flat where they killed Ms Rawson in the early hours of 12 May 2019, the jury was told.

After the murder, Maynard-Ellis behaved normally, and even visited a pub hours later where he was apparently seen smiling and using a phone. He appeared "very happy" as he celebrated his birthday later on 21 May.

"Many knives, saws, axes and other bladed articles", were found in the "tiny" property, Crown counsel Karim Khalil QC said in his opening speech.

Four of Ms Rawson's body parts were found at one site and seven in another in weighted-down bags, Mr Khalil added.

The victim's remains, including her severed head, hands and feet, were found on 12 and 29 June 2019.

Mr Khalil told the jury: "The removal of the feet and hands, we say, would not have helped with disposal because they were bagged up and packed with the respective limbs.

"We suggest that this scale of dismemberment points clearly towards the gruesome fantasy aspect of this case, rather than towards any practical necessity after the death."

Maynard-Ellis, who had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and depression, told jurors in evidence that he was bullied at school but had gone on to achieve a distinction on a special effects, film, television and theatre course.

However, he claimed he never wanted to act out any of the movies or books found at his flat, saying he used to them to "make costumes and masks and things".

But Mr Khalil claimed Maynard-Ellis had dark thoughts for several years "focused mainly on the sexual assault of women and their violent killing".

Mr Khalil added: "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."