Northern Ireland news

Man from north accused of killing Vietnamese woman is convicted murderer, jury told

Family handout photo issued by Northumbria Police of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen whose body was found in a burning car. Stephen Unwin and William McFall who have been accused of torturing, raping and dumping the Vietnamese woman's body have previous convictions for murder, Newcastle Crown Court has heard 
Tom Wilkinson, Press Association

A MAN from the north accused of torturing, raping and dumping a Vietnamese woman's body in a burning car has a previous conviction for murdering a Co Antrim pensioner, a court in England has heard.

Jurors were told how William McFall (51), who is originally from Northern Ireland, murdered 86-year-old Martha Gilmore with a hammer during a break-in in May 1996 at her home in Greenisland, Carrickfergus.

The prosecution was outlining McFall's criminal history as part of "bad character" evidence.

Newcastle Crown Court was told Ms Gilmore disturbed McFall as he was burgling her property so he knocked her to the ground before hitting her with the weapon.

Jamie Hill QC, prosecuting, said McFall told a probation officer he killed Mrs Gilmore "due to alcohol, stress and panic when he became aware of her presence".

He admitted murder, was jailed for life in April 1997 at Belfast Crown Court and released on licence in October 2010.

McFall and co-accused Stephen Unwin deny murdering seven stone Quyen Ngoc Nguyen (28) in a depraved crime the heard was motivated by lust and greed.

The jury has heard she was lured to Unwin's home in Shiney Row, Tyne and Wear, and subjected to a terrifying four-hour ordeal before she was dumped in her burning Audi A4 by some allotments.

Mr Hill, said both defendants were previously convicted of murdering pensioners in burglaries in the 1990s, and both were sentenced to life, but had been released on licence.

The jury was told Unwin (42) had a history of setting fires at the scenes of his crimes.

In 1999, he admitted murdering a 73-year-old man in Houghton-le-Spring on Christmas Day by attacking him in bed with a camera and then stabbed him.

Unwin stole his TV and video recorder and then started three fires in the property, so his victim had to be identified by his dental records.

Mr Hill said in 1991 Unwin set ablaze an HGV he had broken into, and in 1995 he started five fires in the property of another elderly burglary victim who was rescued by neighbours.

Unwin was jailed for life for murder at Newcastle Crown Court in October 1999, and was released on licence in December 2012.

As well as a murder conviction, McFall had previous convictions for violence and firearms offences.

The jury has heard how the pair forced Miss Nguyen to give them her PINs and they took two bank cards and withdrew a total of £1,000 before and after she was killed.

Miss Nguyen was less than 5ft tall, and had come to the country in 2010 from Vietnam, the court has heard.

She helped her sister run a nail salon in Gateshead, but there was also a secret element of her life - renting properties for people without the correct immigration documents, and some addresses were used to cultivate cannabis.

McFall, who had lately been living in Blackpool, was staying regularly with Unwin and worked alongside him maintaining properties for landlords.

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