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Guilty Verdict for Gay Couple in Murder, Dismemberment of Lesbian

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday November 12, 2020

Nathan Maynard-Ellis and David Leesley
Nathan Maynard-Ellis and David Leesley  (Source:West Midlands Police)

A British gay couple has been found guilty in the 2019 slaying and dismemberment of a lesbian they brought to their apartment, a dwelling the prosecution called a "flat of horrors," the BBC reports.

The victim, Julia Rawson, 42, "could not have known that she was about to enter a flat of horrors," the court heard. "But she must have realized this very soon after she went in," due to the apartment being decorated with "gory face masks" and displays of mounted spiders.

Using security camera footage, police were able to ascertain that Rawson met 30-year-old Nathan Maynard-Ellis at a pub in May 2019. Security video also showed her entering the apartment building where Maynard-Ellis lived with his partner, 25-year-old David Leesley. Further evidence was found in the men's apartment in a form of a large bloodstain.

The prosecution argued that Maynard-Ellis went to a bar on the night in question looking to bring home a woman for the purpose of murdering her.

"Jurors heard Maynard-Ellis had a fascination with decapitation and horror films and had been addicted to fantasies about the 'sexualized killing of women'," the BBC story said. The report also noted that Maynard-Ellis was separately charged and convicted for multiple counts of rape he committed against a second woman who came forward after his arrest on suspicion of Rawson's murder.

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," the prosecution alleged, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.

Maynard-Ellis "has shown a particular interest in certain themes involving serial killers and the dismemberment of bodies," the prosecution also alleged.

Acknowledging that Maynard-Ellis was "disturbed," the prosecution nonetheless insisted that he was acting deliberately when he allegedly went looking for a victim. "He knew what he wanted to do and he intended to do exactly what he did — it was the culmination of years of pent-up fantasy and desire," the court was told.

In what may have been a kind of reverse "gay panic" defense, Maynard-Ellis had claimed that he struck Rawson with a rolling pin because she made "moves" on him, The Guardian story said.

The BBC reported that Rawson "was struck about the head." After her death the two men chopped her body into 11 pieces, which they then took to different locations, hiding the pieces "near a canal" and at a garbage dump. Her remains were found weeks apart, on June 12 and June 29, 2019.

Media sources said that the men admitted to obstructing justice and hiding the body parts, but pled not guilty to murder charges.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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