4:00pm Thursday 23rd February 2012
By Ben Frampton - Crime reporter
The man who raped and murdered mum-to-be Nikitta Grender was a drug user whose habit led him into debt and crime. BEN FRAMPTON profiles fixated killer Carl Whant.
CARL Whant was a drug user and a thief before he raped and murdered the woman with whom he was fixated.
Whant would take cocaine regularly and had been sniffing it on a drug-and-drink-fuelled night out in Newport before he drove to the home of the heavily pregnant Nikitta Grender, 19, stabbed her in the neck and stomach and set her flat on fire.
He resorted to burglary and theft to help fund his habit, admitting he would even steal from relatives to help raise money for drugs.
His drug habit, along with that of his cousin, Ryan Mayes, who idolised him, got to the point where a dealer went round to Miss Grender’s Broadmead Park flat and threatened her over a debt of £680 they had run up.
The former Lliswerry High School pupil developed an obsession with the long-time partner of his cousin, saying she was the first person who came to mind when he thought about having sex.
The former bouncer, Newport council street sweeper and takeaway delivery driver was working as a canvasser for Anglian Windows, based in Newport, a job he got in December 2010.
One of his colleagues was Ryan Mayes, the man he would deprive of a girlfriend and a daughter, and the pair spent the day at work together before heading on a night out just hours before Whant raped and murdered Miss Grender.
Kelsey-May, the couple’s first child, was due just 16 days after her mother was brutally stabbed to death in her own bed.
Whant was with long-term girlfriend Rachel Bird when he raped and murdered Miss Grender – the couple got together after meeting on a night out in Newport in August 2009.
He stayed at her house in Newport most nights but did not move in and took on the role of father to her two-year-old son, with whom she was already pregnant when they met. Whant already had two children from a previous relationship.
Despite saying Whant was never violent towards her, Miss Bird said she would phone and text him “constantly” when he went out as she didn’t trust him and thought he could be with another woman.
Miss Bird barely knew Miss Grender and the two met on only a few occasions but she said Whant and Mr Mayes were inseparable and did everything together.
A couple, who saw Whant grow up in the decade they have known his family, said he and Mr Mayes were very close, so hearing police had arrested and charged him for the killing of his cousin’s girlfriend and soon-to-be mother of his child stunned them.
Crossing his fingers, the husband said: “Him and Ryan were like that, they were like brothers, he used to see Carl regularly.
From two people being so close to this.”
Speaking to the Argus before his court case on the condition of anonymity, the couple said they were amazed to hear Whant had been arrested and charged.
Far from the character traits one might associate with a killer, the pair said for as long as they had known him, he had been polite and friendly: “He was a friendly, chatty sort – the type of person who would always say hello,” they said.
The couple said they had not seen Whant in the days running up to Miss Grender’s murder, and the next time they saw his face was when it was plastered all over the Argus’ and national newspapers’ front pages.
“After we heard about Nikitta, we didn’t see Carl again until he was arrested,” said the husband.
“I didn’t know the police were looking for him, but when all the papers came out I thought ‘Oh God, he’s been arrested.’ When I heard he was arrested, it was really shocking. I couldn’t believe it had happened, I never thought he would do something like this.
“It’s shocking to see someone you know on the front pages of the newspapers.”
The wife added: “I didn’t believe it when I first heard. I was devastated for the family because they are so nice.”
Her husband said: “It’s been heartbreaking for his family.”
Whant’s mother is said to have been in tears after his arrest and again after she spoke to him, as he told her outright he hadn’t killed the teenager.
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