Nathan Maynard-Ellis and his partner David Leesley carried out a gruesome crime which devastated Julia Rawson’s family and friends and shocked and saddened the local community.
Julia, aged 42, from Dudley, had spent the day out with friends before ending up in the Bottle and Cork pub in Dudley later on the evening of Saturday 11 May; she was tragically never seen by her loved ones again.
She was reported missing to police on 14 May after family and friends were concerned that they hadn’t heard from her and she’d not attended work.
A missing person search was carried out and as part of those enquires, we were able to determine that Julia had a chance meeting with a man and they were seen leaving the pub in a taxi at around 2am on Sunday morning.
This CCTV was circulated on the police briefing systems and a breakthrough came when a local security guard in Dudley town centre contacted local officers to say he thought he’d seen the man.
Local officers stopped Maynard-Ellis on 22 May and asked him what he knew about Julia’s disappearance.
He denied meeting Julia and said he didn’t believe the man in the imagery was him. However, officers were confident it was him as he’d shown Julia some distinctive tattoos on his arms. He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap.
The following day the missing person enquiry was passed over to the homicide team as there was no proof that Julia was still alive.
Detectives visited the flat which Maynard-Ellis shared with his partner Leesley in Mission Drive, Tipton which is situated near to a canal and a wooded area. They met with police search advisors who had already commenced some line searches of the area to see if there was anything of interest.
CCTV enquires showed Maynard-Ellis and Leesley walking away from the flat on many occasions with carrier bags casually walking down the canal.
Further enquires also revealed that they had purchased new carpet. Upon further searching forensics lifted the new carpet and found a stain underneath which was forensically examined and found to be blood. This DNA matched Julia’s and detectives were now certain she’d come to harm.
Maynard-Ellis and Leesley were now both in custody and 15 days following the last sighting of Julia they were charged with her murder despite her body not being found.
Determined to find Julia, police searched for 47 days using a range of specialist equipment including search dogs from other areas of the country.
On the afternoon of 12 June, police made a grim discovery. A search dog found a bag which contained human body parts, another bag was found around 20 metres away. The body parts had been wrapped tightly in plastic bags, one was slightly torn which had allowed the dog to pick up on the scent.
Following specialist forensic analysis, detectives investigating were able to confirm that they had discovered Julia’s body.
Following a four week trial at Coventry Crown Court, Maynard-Ellis, aged 30, and David Leesley, aged 25, from Mission Drive, Tipton were found guilty of murder.
Maynard-Ellis was also found guilty of rape, and threats to kill, in relation to another woman.
Both men will be sentenced later.
Julia’s family described her as “easy-going and quick to make friends with anyone she met. She was a talented artist and musician, with the ability to play by ear. Her drawings were shown at local art shows.
“Her death has had a devastating impact on us, the mutilation of her body and the callous way in which her remains were scattered has revolted us. We can only pray Julia knew nothing about these abhorrent acts.
“We are a close and loving family, clinging to each other in an attempt to support each other through this harrowing ordeal, but shall remain deeply affected and troubled by these events for the rest of our lives because Julia’s loss is felt as keenly today as when we heard she had first gone missing.”
Detective Inspector Jim Colclough, from our homicide team, said: “This is simply a tragic case. The actions of Maynard-Ellis and Leesley are incomprehensible. Julia did nothing wrong that evening. The way in which she was murdered and treated in death are despicable.
“Julia’s family, friends and the wider community in which this horrific killing has occurred are left devastated by the cruel actions of the pair.
“Fortunately depraved crimes like this are rare, but their actions were sickening and it’s been a complex and emotionally difficult case for us as officers to investigate. However, we were determined to seek justice for Julia and I hope their guilty verdicts provide some solace for her loved ones. My thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”