Died 5th February 2011
Nikitta Grender (19), was heavily pregnant when she was raped and stabbed to death by Carl Whant (27) before he set alight her flat in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, Newport, Gwent. Nikitta Grender was two weeks away from giving birth to a baby girl she had named Kelsey-May. She died before the fire started.
Whant, a former nightclub bouncer, of Bettws, Newport, was unanimously convicted of murder, rape, child destruction and arson. On 22nd February 2012, at Newport Crown Court, he was sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 35 years.
Whant stabbed Ms Grender in the neck and the stomach, then set fire to the flat, leaving her pet dog to burn to death. He then returned to a party where he had been all night with Ms Grender’s boyfriend, Ryan Mayes, who is also his cousin. Ms Grender’s badly-burned body was discovered at the flat in Broadmead Park, Lliswerry, Newport, on 5 February 2011 after firefighters were called.
Judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams told Whant he had left the party because he “wanted to have sex with” Ms Grender. The judge said that because Whant knew she would not agree, he “went armed with a knife, prepared to rape her.” adding “The likelihood is that she let you in, believing that Ryan was with you.”
The judge told Whant that the murder had “left her family, Ryan Mayes, and her friends bereft. The subsequent loss was compounded by the knowledge that her murderer had raped her and then tried to destroy her body. The grief was made all the more deep because you did not scruple to make the wholly false allegation that she had consensual sex with you”
The judge said Whant acted with “quite extraordinary hypocrisy” after the murder was discovered, and even took flowers to the Grender household. He said that having listened to his evidence he concluded that Whant was a “calculating, vain and devious” individual.
But the judge said said the full facts of what happened on the morning of the murder may never be known. He added: “The explanation for these crimes lies in part in your vanity. You told the police that she was ‘feisty’ and in my view she told you that she was going to report you to the police for raping her, and that is why you murdered her.”
DNA tests confirmed Whant had had sex with Ms Grender, and scratches were found on his wrists. Whant initially denied any contact with Ms Grender, but later changed his story and claimed he had had consensual sex with her after an invitation by Mr Mayes.
Mr Mayes described this and the claim that Ms Grender consented as “preposterous”.
Ms Grender’s uncle, Michael Brunnock, read a statement on behalf of her parents Marcia Grender and Paul Brunnock, saying: “The last 12 months have been harder for us than you could ever imagine. And as a family we remain in total disbelief as to what has happened. Nikitta was so young and beautiful and together with Ryan, they were to become a very proud set of parents to Kelsey-May. This has been ripped from them by Carl Whant, who has never had the decency to tell us the truth. For us to see our grandchild for the first time in a mortuary was the most heartbreaking thing we have ever had to do. Nikitta was so special and will remain in our hearts until we die. We will never deal with the tragic events that have stolen our family from us but hope we can at least start to understand what has happened.”
Chief Superintendent Geoff Ronayne said the 35 year sentence was the longest he could remember in his 30 years with Gwent Police. He said Whant had “never admitted his guilt, given any indication about why he committed this terrible crime or provided Nikitta’s family with any answers”.
Mr Ronayne said the event had been a “harrowing ordeal” for the family and Mr Mayes, and he commended them for their “bravery and dignity”, commenting “I’m hopeful that this conviction brings to an end one part of that process, although without doubt they will continue to mourn and grieve Nikitta and Kelsey-May for the rest of their lives.”
Shortly after Ms Grender’s death, her friend Jenna White (17) said she was looking forward to being a mother, adding “She was an amazing girl – always happy, beautiful and lovely”.
Note: This report was compiled from reports in the BBC and the Daily Mail.