Nikitta Grender: Carl Whant jailed for 35 years for murdering pregnant teenager
A former nightclub bouncer has been jailed for a minimum of 35 years for murdering a pregnant teenager two weeks before she was due to give birth.
Carl Whant, 27, of Bettws, Newport, raped and stabbed 19-year-old Nikitta Grender at her home, also killing her unborn daughter, last February.
He set fire to her Newport flat before returning to a party where he had been with her boyfriend, Ryan Mayes.
Whant was convicted of murder, rape, child destruction and arson.
Miss Grender had already named her baby girl Kelsey-May.
Outside Newport Crown Court after the verdict, the victim's uncle, Michael Brunnock, said in a statement: "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.
End Quote Michael Brunnock Nikitta Grender's uncle
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 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."'Calculating and devious'
Det Ch Supt Geoff Ronayne said the 35-year sentence was the longest he could remember in his 30 years with Gwent Police.
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".
"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."
Sobs and some whispers of "yes" were heard in the court as the jury announced it had found him guilty after a trial lasting more than a month.
As he sentenced Whant to life in prison with a minimum of 35 years, Judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams warned the public to remain calm.
He said Whant had left the party because "you fancied Nikitta and wanted to have sex with her".
He said that because he knew that she would not agree, and "you went armed with a knife, prepared to rape her.
"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.
End Quote Mr Justice Griffith Williams Newport Crown Court
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 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.
But 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."Scratches on wrists
Whant's trial heard that Ms Grender's badly-burned body was discovered at the flat in Broadmead Park, Lliswerry, Newport, on 5 February 2011 after firefighters were called.
A post-mortem examination found her throat had been slashed and her stomach stabbed. She had died before the fire started.
Whant was arrested four days later.
DNA tests confirmed he had had sex with Ms Grender, and scratches were found on his wrists.
Whant had initially denied any contact with Ms Grender. But he later changed his story and claimed he had had consensual sex with her the night she was killed after an invitation by Mr Mayes.
He said he had only initially denied having sex with her because he did not want to upset his girlfriend.
When giving evidence, Mr Mayes described this claim as "preposterous".
Whant was caught on CCTV by three separate cameras driving his car from the party he had been to near Ms Grender's flat.
Blood on a shirt and in his car was also identified as Ms Grender's.