South East Wales

Nikitta Grender: Carl Whant 'raped and murdered victim'

A man raped and stabbed his cousin's pregnant teenage girlfriend two weeks before she was due to give birth, a murder trial has heard.

Nikitta Grender, 19, was found dead in her burning flat in Liswerry, Newport, in February 2011.

Newport Crown Court heard that she suffered a stomach wound which penetrated her unborn baby girl.

Carl Whant, 27, of Bettws, near Newport, denies murder, child destruction, rape and arson.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Greg Taylor QC told the jury that Ms Grender was living with Mr Whant's second cousin, Ryan Mayes, 18, the father of the child.

She had been in an on-off relationship with Mr Mayes for four years.

Mr Taylor said: "They moved into a new flat the previous September - Nikitta's mother lived around the corner to help her out.

"Nikitta visited the midwife regularly with Ryan and they were both looking forward to the birth of their child.

"They had decorated one room in the flat and had bought a cot and pram - they were well prepared."

The court heard that on the night of 4 February 2011 Mr Mayes went to a pub to watch a rugby match on TV with Mr Whant, a nightclub doorman, and other friends, later ending up at a house party.

But while he was out, Ms Grender and their unborn baby - who she had already named Kelsey-May - were killed.

Forensic evidence

Ms Grender detested Mr Whant so much she avoided speaking to him when they were together, the jury was told.

Mr Taylor said that Mr Whant "raped her, he murdered her and destroyed her unborn child".

He said forensic evidence showed Mr Whant had had sex with Ms Grender.

''There was no question of him having consensual sex with Nikitta," said Mr Taylor. "It was common knowledge that she disliked him.

"She knew (the defendant) was a self-confessed cocaine user and a bad influence on her boyfriend."

The prosecution said there was no doubt that Ms Grender had been killed before the fire started.

Her body was found on the bed, the court heard. The bed had been set alight to try to mask the murder, the jury was told, and firefighters called to the blazing flat were met by a ball of flame.

Image caption The fire at the house where Ms Grender's body was found had been lit in three places, the court heard

Mr Taylor QC said the fire on the bed had been lit in three different places, probably with a lighter.

The fire service was called out at 07:50 and had the blaze under control by 08:15.

The prosecution said it was clear Ms Grender had been murdered by stabbing.

Blood tests had proved that she had not died from the effects of the smoke.

'Father figure'

The court heard that Mr Mayes "idolised" his cousin who was 10 years older.

Mr Taylor said: "Ryan looked up to Carl Whant. Whant told police that Ryan believed he was the closest thing to a father he had and they would often go out together.

"Whant told police he had been in the habit of three grammes a cocaine a day but that he had cut down to having three grammes every other day.

"He knew Nikitta didn't approve of him and that he and Ryan had got into trouble in the past over drug debts. They would stay out drinking and taking cocaine."

The court heard that Mr Whant left the party in Newport to carry out the murder before dawn.

Mr Taylor said: "At 5am Whant told Ryan he was going to his grandmother's to get some more cigarettes.

'Scratches'

"He didn't return to the party until an hour and a half later. During this missing time Nikitta was raped and murdered."

Image caption The interior of the house was damaged in the fire

The jury was told Whant was left with scratches on his arm.

"These marks are a result of Nikitta trying to fend off Whant," said Mr Taylor.

"Whant told his girlfriend that he received them as a result of being restrained in a bar fight. But he simply made up this event."

The court was told Mr Whant returned to the party and drove with Mr Mayes to the flat where Ms Grender's body had already been discovered.

In a police interview Mr Whant said: "As we got closer to the road we could see a number of fire engines and police vehicles parked up.

"Ryan ran over and was talking to police. I could see him getting more and more upset.

"He was clearly devastated. It was then we were told the news about Nikitta and the flat."

The trial continues.