Northern Ireland news

Killers who met in prison joined forces to torture and murder mother-of-two

victim: Quyen Ngoc Nguyen

TWO killers who met in prison have been convicted of teaming up to torture and murder a Vietnamese woman before dumping her body in a burning car.

William McFall (51), who is from Co Antrim, and Stephen Unwin put Quyen Ngoc Nguyen (28) through an unimaginable four hour ordeal after she was lured to Unwin's home in Tyne and Wear.

Unwin (40) was also convicted of her rape.

The pair, who worked together as maintenance men, had both served life sentences for murdering vulnerable elderly people in their homes during robberies.

McFall, originally from Greencastle, was convicted of murder following a 1996 break-in at the home of 86-year-old Martha Gilmore. He attacked her with a hammer at her home in Greenisland, near Carrickfergus.

His victim had mobility problems and disturbed him so he knocked her to the ground before hitting her with the weapon. He admitted murder and was jailed for life in April 1997 at Belfast Crown Court. He was released on licence in October 2010.

McFall also had previous convictions for violence and firearms offences.

Unwin killed admitted killing retired pharmacist John Greenwell (73) in Houghton-le-Spring in 1991, knocking his victim to the floor before torching his bungalow. He was released on licence in 2012.

The jury at Newcastle Crown Court deliberated for four hours yesterday before reaching their verdicts.

The victim's sister Quyhn Ngoc Nguyen wept in the public gallery, holding a framed photo of her sibling, as she waited for the verdicts.

Firefighters discovered Ms Nguyen's badly burned body in the back of her Audi after it had been torched beside allotments last August. The jury heard how her killers ate a curry they had cooked as their victim lay dying in the house.

The mother-of-two worked at her sister's nail bar but also helped Vietnamese people find accommodation when she came across Unwin, who worked for landlords maintaining properties.

She would not have known he was a life prisoner out on licence for murdering a pensioner in 1998.

Tellingly, he also set fire to his elderly victim's house in a bid to cover his tracks.

The killers met in prison in Kent and got in touch via Facebook after they were both released on licence. They teamed up, working together legitimately, but also stealing cannabis from farms they found in local properties.

They planned their depraved attack on the 5ft victim and Unwin tricked her into coming into his home, where McFall was waiting.

McFall had texted Unwin earlier that evening saying: "We raping the chink?".

Before she was sexually assaulted, raped and killed, she had been forced to hand over her PINs and Unwin withdrew £1,000 from her bank accounts at cashpoints that night.

Each of the defendants blamed the other, seemingly hoping to confuse the jury.

McFall wrote to Unwin while they were on remand saying he had been to the prison library and found a "legal loophole" despite what he admitted was damning evidence.

The prosecution claimed their loophole was simply to blame one another.

After the trial, the victim's sister branded the killers "evil" and said they should never be released.

In a statement, she said: "I believe that if these two people were released at some point in the future, then definitely some innocent people could be harmed.

"I think they should never be released, they are evil."

Both men will be sentenced on April 25.

The Ministry of Justice said fewer than one in 200 prisoners out on licence go on to commit a serious offence.

A spokesman said: "This was a truly heinous crime and our sincere condolences remain with Miss Nguyen's family and friends.

"Serious further offences are very rare - but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully so we identify any necessary actions when managing other cases."

The Ministry of Justice said McFall and Unwin were not known to be associates.

It said people on "life licence" were monitored according to the risks they posed and "how long they have been on licence without cause for concern".

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