Two arrogant killers have been convicted by a jury of murdering a Killingworth mum - and setting her body on fire.
Stephen Unwin, 40, and William John McFall, 51, have today been convicted of the murder of 28-year-old Quyen Ngoc Nguyen in Sunderland last August.
The pair had originally met in prison where they were already serving time behind bars for murdering vulnerable victims in two separate incidents.
But following their release they reunited and schemed together to rape and murder the Vietnamese mother-of-two at Unwin’s home.
The pair held Quyen hostage for four hours during which she was sexually assaulted and raped to a point at which they rendered her unconscious.
Her killers then drove her body to some nearby allotments, dumped the vehicle in a field and then set it on fire as Quyen lay slumped on the back seat.
Detectives quickly identified the men as suspects and gathered a mountain of evidence against them - but they both denied any responsibility.
Today a jury saw through their lies and the pair were convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court. Stephen Unwin was also convicted of rape.
Now Detective Inspector Ed Small, who was part of the investigation team, has said the case is one of the worst he has had to investigate in his entire career.
He said: “This was one of the most horrific cases that I have had to investigate in my 25 years working as a police officer.
“William John McFall and Stephen Unwin had a history of targeting vulnerable people for personal gain and that is exactly what they did on this occasion.
“They invited Quyen round to their house and held her for four hours during which Quyen was sexually assaulted, raped and murdered.
“I can’t even begin to imagine how she would have felt in those last few hours and these two individuals deserve to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
“They are both violent men who lack any form of compassion. They are arrogant, greedy and have shown no remorse from the moment they were brought into police custody.
“To put Quyen’s family through the ordeal of a trial despite the mountain of evidence against them typifies what kind of people they are.
“I have nothing but admiration for Quyen’s family and particularly her sister Quynh who has sat in court throughout the proceedings so she could look both these men in the eye.
“Nothing will bring Quyen back to her family or her two children but these men now face the rest of their lives behind bars. I hope that gives them some form of justice.”
Unwin, of Oswald Terrace, Houghton-le-Spring, and McFall, of Waterloo Road, Blackpool, were released from prison in December, 2012, and December 2010.
Quyen lived in Killingworth with her sister Quynh and worked as a manager at a Birtley nail bar as well as working to find properties for other members of the Vietnamese community. It was through this line of work that she met property manager Stephen Unwin.
During their trial, Newcastle Crown Court heard that on the afternoon of August 14 Unwin and McFall had exchanged texts arranging to rape Quyen.
She arrived at Unwin’s address on Oswald Terrace in Houghton-le-Spring at around 7.30pm and CCTV captured the last moment she was seen alive before she entered the property.
Once inside she was held by the pair for four hours during which she was sexually assaulted and raped to such a level that it rendered her unconscious.
The pair stole her bank card and Unwin was caught on CCTV withdrawing hundreds of pounds from her account while she was held in the address.
Quyen’s unconscious body was then moved into her car before the pair drove it to allotments in Shiney Row where they abandoned it and set it on fire. A pathologist later told police that Quyen may still have been alive.
As Part of their investigation, detectives uncovered a damning CCTV trail as well as a smiling selfie that the pair took during a trip to withdraw cash from Quyen’s account after they had dumped her body.
Both denied being involved in the mother-of-two’s death despite the overwhelming evidence against them presented by detectives at Northumbria Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team.
At Newcastle Crown Court today they were unanimously convicted by a jury of charges of murder. Stephen Unwin was also convicted of rape but McFall was found not guilty of rape.
The pair were remanded in custody and will appear before a judge at Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing at a later date.
Quyen’s sister, Quynh Ngoc Nguyen. said that it had been “unbelievably difficult to listen to the lies” that McFall and Unwin had perpetrated in court.
She said: “Quyen was a loving caring mother and a simply beautiful daughter, sister and aunt who loved nothing more than spending time with her family.
“She had many friends both Vietnam and in the UK. My sister has two beautiful young children whose lives have been changed forever, they will never see there mummy again which has left us all deeply saddened and hurt.
“My parents will never understand why she has been taken from them in this violent way, they always believed she would be safe in this country. She was their youngest child, a kind, generous, thoughtful and intelligent young women.
“We have all been left devastated by her death, our family has lost a wonderful women, we cannot even begin to describe the loss and emptiness in our hearts, her smile will be missed every day by everyone who knew her.
“Quyen was a talented loving and beautiful young woman who had the opportunity for a wonderful life; she had educated herself in London to degree standard, taught herself to learn the English language well and dreamed of a good life for her and her children.
“It has been unbelievably difficult for her family and friends to listen to the lies these two men have said about her in an attempt to clear their own names.
“She was not involved in any criminality nor was she ever in a relationship with Mr Unwin. The thought and knowledge of what Quyen must have suffered at the time of her death is unbearable.
“Although nothing will bring her back to us I accept the sentence imposed by the court and hope these individuals will never be released.”