Carl Whant guilty of murder, child destruction, rape and arson

22/02/2012

Carl Whant has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 35 years, after a jury at Newport Crown Court, found him guilty of the murder and rape of 19-year-old Nikitta Grender, the destruction of her unborn child Kelsey-May, and arson.

Speaking after the verdict, David Wooler, Crown Advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales, said:

"When we reviewed the initial evidence against Carl Whant gathered by Heddlu Gwent Police back in February last year, the truly horrific nature of the crimes committed was all too apparent.

"At that stage it was clearly appropriate to authorise a murder charge in relation to Nikitta Grender's death. However, the offence of murder cannot be committed against unborn children and we felt it was extremely important that Kelsey-May's death was marked by a separate charge in its own right.

"Carl Whant was therefore also charged with the offence of child destruction, under the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929. This piece of legislation - thankfully very rarely used - can help protect the rights of an unborn child that is capable of being born alive. Kelsey-May undoubtedly fit that description.

"This is an offence which prohibits wilful acts causing the death of any child capable of being born alive - and given the advanced stage of Nikitta Grender's pregnancy, Kelsey-May certainly fit that description.

"Child destruction is, thankfully, a very rarely used charge; we are not aware of another case like this one in Wales. When the legislation was originally drafted in the 1920s, it was intended to be used to curb the activities of back-street abortionists. But in a more modern setting, it can be applied to cases where an offender deliberately takes the life of an unborn child through a violent or aggressive act.

"As the police inquiry continued over the weeks and months following the original incident, more evidence became available to us, ultimately leading to the addition of rape and arson charges against Carl Whant.

"I think many of us involved in highly emotive cases such as this one experience a strange mixture of emotions at its conclusion. Whilst we may feel that a conviction provides vindication for the immense amount of hard work that goes into a major criminal investigation and prosecution, we are acutely aware that today's verdict does not bring back Nikitta or Kelsey-May.

"Equally, whilst we may move on to our next case, the family and friends of the victims are left to grieve their loss for many years to come. All we can do is hope that today's conviction at least allows them to take one small step forward in rebuilding their lives.

"A large number of people have supported this trial as witnesses and we would like to thank each and every one of them for their strength and resilience."