Murder accused Carl Whant denies infatuation with victim Nikitta Grender

A man accused of raping and murdering a pregnant teenager at her flat in Newport has told a jury he was not infatuated by her.

Carl Whant, 27, of Bettws, Newport, is accused of stabbing Nikitta Grender, 19, to death in an attack that also killed her unborn child last February.

On the first day of his defence at Newport Crown Court, he told the jury he was invited to have sex with her.

He denies murder, rape, arson and child destruction. The trial continues.

Miss Grender's body was found in a burned out flat in Newport on the city's Broadmead Park estate.

Mr Whant's DNA was discovered on her during a post-mortem examination.

Miss Grender was due to give birth to a girl two weeks after her death.

Mr Whant, who gave "no comment" responses in his first six police interviews, told the jury he initially lied to police when asked whether he had ever had sex with Miss Grender.

The father-of-one, who has a bad stammer, said he was embarrassed he had cheated on his girlfriend, Rachel Bird.

He also said on the night before the murder he was supposed to have been at home making food for Miss Bird - but instead chose to go out drinking and taking drugs with friends, including Miss Grender's boyfriend Ryan Mayes, who was his best friend and second cousin.

He did six to seven lines of cocaine, took the banned substance "M-cat" and drunk alcohol.

Whant said the drug made him feel "high and confident".

They watched the Wales v England rugby international and then went to the Greyhound pub.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of inside the premises, where Mr Whant said he had been talking to two bouncers he knew because he used also used to work there as a doorman.

Scratched and bruised

He said the pub as very busy and was upset by an unknown Asian man who spilled his pint.

Mr Whant said this led to him getting scratch-like marks on his right wrist. A girl tried to stop him pursuing the man and grabbed him by the arm, he claimed.

The jury was shown photographs of the marks taken by police, as well as a light bruise near to his elbow.

"I haven't got a clue how they got there," said Mr Whant of the bruises.

Earlier, Mr Whant told the jury he was invited to have sex with Miss Grender on the day she was stabbed to death.

He said Miss Grender's boyfriend, Mr Mayes, called him in to the bedroom from the kitchen in the couple's flat, where he was having a cigarette.

He told the court that Mr Mayes, who he also worked with as a double glazing salesman, left the room and that "Nikitta seemed willing - it was unexpected, it just happened".

Image caption Nikitta Grender was two weeks away from giving birth to a baby girl

He added: "Afterwards I was like: 'How the hell did that happen'?"

Mr Whant told the court it was not the first time he had sex with one of 17-year-old Mr Mayes' girlfriends.

"We did everything together - we played football, we watched films and sporting events and we'd go out in the evenings and do drugs together," he said.

"I was always around him when he was growing up. As he got older we got closer.

"I went to the flat that he and Nikitta shared almost every day for social visits."

The jury has heard Mr Whant was out with Mr Mayes in Newport on the night of Ms Grender's murder on 4 February last year.

He is accused of leaving a house party and going to the flat where Miss Grender and Mr Mayes had just decorated a nursery ready for the arrival of their baby, who they had already named Kelsey-May.

Asked if he left the party to rape and kill Miss Grender and then set her flat on fire, Mr Whant replied: "No I never - not at all."

'Hyperactive little dog'

The defendant denied being infatuated with Miss Grender, saying: "I've known her ever since Ryan met her about four years ago.

"I thought she was all right - as far as I was concerned she was fine with me.

"It was only through other people that I found she wasn't too keen on me."

He also said she had a "hyperactive little dog who barked at him and everyone else whenever he visited her flat".

Miss Grender was stabbed in the neck and stomach causing the death of her unborn baby.

She was found lying on was deliberately set on fire.

Prosecutor Greg Taylor said: "This was an attempt to cover up these crimes making it appear Nikitta Grender had died in a tragic house fire.

"The man who did that was Carl Whant.

"It was common knowledge that Nikitta disliked Whant - he was a self-confessed cocaine user and she thought he was a bad influence on Ryan."

The trial continues.

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